Michael Vick and the Gospel

 
Michael Vick
Photo by AP
 
 
 
It was interesting to hear the responses by various people and sports commentators about Michael Vick signing a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. After serving 18 months in prison for running a dogfighting ring, Vick was reinstated with conditions by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Now, this is going to be interesting.

How will animal-lovers respond? How will Christ-followers respond? How will Christ-followers who love animals respond?

Regardless of how you feel about what Vick did, there are some tough lessons about the Gospel that we have to wrestle with.

Do we really believe in the Gospel message? Do we believe in second chances?

On a human level, it is not easy forgiving people. It is not easy giving grace. It is not easy giving second chances to people that have done something wrong. But time and time again, we notice in the Bible of how Jesus set the example. I can’t help but to think about the story in John 21 and Jesus’ encounter with Peter, who failed Jesus in a huge way. It is a powerful reminder of how much we are NOT like Jesus.

We can always question the remorsefulness of Vick. We can scrutinize him and see if he makes another mistake. But the Gospel nuggets are simple – rebellion, redemption, and restoration. We begin to understand the Gospel more when we recognized that we have failed and fallen; and we need a Savior who gives second chance; and we receive His grace and mercy by faith; and we surrender our lives in obedience to the only one who is worthy of everything.

It was encouraging to know that the former Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy (a strong Christ-follower) was spending some time with Vick and giving him advice along the way.

Here is the response of Michael Vick on his reinstatement to the NFL:

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to commissioner Goodell for allowing me to be readmitted to the National Football League. I fully understand that playing football in the NFL is a privilege, not a right, and I am truly thankful for the opportunity I have been given. As you can imagine, the last two years have given me time to re-evaluate my life, mature as an individual and fully understand the terrible mistakes I have made in the past and what type of life I must lead moving forward.

When a person receives grace and begins to slowly comprehend it, they understand that it is a privilege and not a right. In the Church today, too many people see it as a “right” therefore they do not live in gratitude of the privilege.

But what impressed me the most about this whole situation was the response that the Eagles’ coach Andy Reid made in public. He said,

“I’m a believer that as long as people go through the right process, they deserve a second chance. Michael has done that. I’ve done a tremendous amount of homework on this, and I’ve followed his progress. He has some great people in his corner, and he has proven that he’s on the right track. I’ve seen people that are close to me who have had second chances that have taken advantage of those. It’s very important that people give them an opportunity to change, so we’re doing that with Michael.”

The reason why his statement is powerful is because of his own experience with his two sons, Britt and Garrett, charged with a drug offense. Then it hit me. Those who have received grace will give grace. Anyone who has experienced the Gospel in a transformative way will inevitably give grace.

In a sharp contrast to the biblical view of grace, Ed Sayres, president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said that they hope Vick “rises to the occasion and proves worthy of the rare second chance Commissioner Goodell has granted him. Opportunities for redemption are rare.”

That is exactly the point.

Grace would not be grace if a person was “worthy” of it or if they had to try to “prove” themselves worthy. We were not worthy nor did we have to prove anything to receive God’s grace. This is why I am a follower of Jesus Christ and not Muhammad, Buddha or any other religious figure in history.