*Note of warning – If you do not have a sense of humor about the Carolina-Duke basketball rivalry, you may want to avoid reading today’s devotional.
Of all the horrible things that are happening on this planet and in our own state of North Carolina, nothing is more upsetting to us right now than the fact that there is no local basketball team left in the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament heading into the sweet sixteen. (Side note – Congratulations to the North Carolina Tar Heel women’s team who are still alive in the sweet sixteen in their tournament.) The weeping and gnashing of teeth has been great in the triangle this past weekend.
Some of us like to play up the local rivalries and paint them in terms of the greater struggle of good vs. evil. Depending on your loyalty, Roy Williams is either a feisty southern mountain boy who tells it like it is or a washed-up, disingenuous hillbilly. On the other side, Mike Krzyzewski is a foul-mouthed Chicago Yankee who terrifies the refs, the ACC and NCAA into submission or… I can’t quite think of any other way to say it. And poor NC State fans are just praying the Mark Gottfried is finally the answer to getting them back in the game.
These brand loyalties among local college teams and fans create great drama. They provide us with a community sense of pride and friendly rivalry. And to tell the truth, they distract us from some real problems that are too scary and unsolvable.
NCAA basketball and football generate a lot of money through television contracts. We have seen lately, more dramatically than ever, that when money is involved, corruption is inevitable. Every successful program seems to be tarnished with scandal sometime in its history.
And that’s because human beings are sinners, every one of us, no exceptions. (Well, maybe Dean Smith, but we all know he’s in a class by himself.)
Seriously, no exceptions. As much as we want to believe in the good will of others, the reality is that each of us is subject to corruption. For many of us, the desire to be liked or to seem like a good person keeps us from doing things we might be inclined to do that are wrong. But when we think others won’t find out, we are willing to cheat and steal and lie to get what we want.
The Bible talks about this in the powerful words of Paul from Romans chapters 7 and 8. “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep doing… Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!… Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
“Who will rescue me?” “Thanks be to God… there is now no condemnation…” That is the good news!
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC