Did He Really Say That?

It was painful to watch. Locked in an overtime battle against the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the NFL’s best teams, Steve Johnson, the 24 year old wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, had a chance to catch the game winning touchdown pass. Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills QB, launched a perfect strike to Johnson has he ran into the end zone. With no one really near him all he had to do was catch the ball.

But he didn’t catch it. As Johnson sat on the ground it was hard not to feel a bit sorry for him. As my old football coach used to say, “He went from being the hero to the zero.” In the post game interview Johnson told reporters that he was devastated.

“I’ll never get over it. Ever. The Buffalo Bills will get over it, but I won’t. You’re a receiver. You don’t drop the ball. I won’t get over it.”

But some time after leaving the team’s facilities, Johnson took to twitter and you will never guess what he wrote…

I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…

Did you catch that? Johnson is angry with God because he thinks that God didn’t act fairly toward him. In essence he is saying, “I dedicate my life to you and you make me drop the game winning catch. I deserve better than that.”

As we saw this past Sunday in Genesis 4, a deserving attitude is a warning sign that we might be drifting away from genuine faith in Christ and into false religion. Religious people think their service or worship should be rewarded with God’s favor. After watching the rich young ruler walk away in response to Jesus’s challenge to give away his riches and follow him, Peter says…

“We have left everything to follow you. What will there be in it for us?” (Matthew 19:27)

There are obvious similarities between Peter’s response to Jesus and Steve Johnson’s tweet. Both add up the things that they have done for God and expect something good in return. After all they deserve it.

In Johnson’s case when he didn’t get what he thought he deserved, he got angry and told the world about how God had failed him. Don’t you just love Twitter?

We have to be careful that this kind of thinking doesn’t creep into our life. Religion says, “I’ve obeyed God so I deserve good things. I’ve attended church faithfully, I deserve a happy marriage. I have been a good person, I deserve children. I have served God my whole life, I deserve good health.” And like Johnson, when we don’t get whatever blessings we think that we’ve earned, we to tend to get angry with God.

The Christian realizes that the only thing he deserves from God is judgment for sin. Anything else is God’s grace and mercy toward him. That means that every morning we wake up alive is God’s grace toward us. Every friendship, every paycheck, every lighthearted moment is evidence that God has not given us what we deserve but is instead being merciful toward us. Our house, car, and clothes are signs of God’s undeserved kindness.

The Christian isn’t characterized by a deserving attitude but one better described as desperate. He is desperate for God’s undeserved grace because he knows that it is only God that brings true satisfaction. He isn’t angry that he isn’t getting what he deserves but thankful that God has been so kind to him–an undeserving sinner.

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