Did the NFL Discriminate Against Robert Griffin III's Faith?
Robert Griffin III is one of the most remarkable athletes of our day. He was one of America's best quarterbacks in high school, and was also ranked No. 1 in the nation as a hurdler. He was also class president and ranked seventh in his class. He won a Heisman Trophy at Baylor, where his statue now stands outside the university's new stadium. He graduated from Baylor in three years with a 3.67 GPA and a degree in political science. Drafted by the Washington Redskins, he was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. His status is so iconic that he is known simply as RG3.
Knee injuries in college and the NFL have been his greatest challenge. Then he dislocated his left ankle last Sunday, and will be out six to eight weeks. He came into a press conference following the game on crutches. That's when controversy erupted.
RG3 wore a blue t-shirt with white block letters, "KNOW JESUS KNOW PEACE." The K and W of "KNOW" were in black, so that the shirt could also be read, "NO JESUS NO PEACE." But when he stood to speak, he had reversed the t-shirt at the request of an NFL official. Bloggers immediately began claiming religious discrimination, citing the incident as another example of persecution against Christians.
However, there's more to the story. The NFL later made public its rule governing such issues: "Throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television audience . . . players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration, unless such message has been approved in advance by the League office." When RG3 was told about the rule by a league official, he simply chose to flip his shirt inside-out rather than contest the issue.
One of the great challenges Christians face in our darkening moral and spiritual climate is knowing when to fight a battle and when to desist. I was struck recently by this statement: When David was fleeing for his life from King Saul, a woman said to him, "The Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord" (1 Samuel 25:28). David was led to fight Goliath but not to fight Saul. He was willing to take on the Lord's adversaries, but only as the Lord directed.
Our work for God is significant only if God works through us. Moses prayed, "Let the favor of the Lord be upon us, and establish the work of our hands" (Psalm 90:17). Human words cannot change human hearts. You and I cannot convict a single sinner of a single sin, or save a soul, or change a life. Only the Holy Spirit working through us can do that which is spiritual and eternal.
As you follow and serve Jesus today, ask his Spirit to show you the battles he wants you to fight. Ask him to give you his words to say, his actions to take. Ask for the character of Christ as you reveal him to the world. And know that as he prompts you, your obedience will bear eternal harvest.
RG3's life purpose is simple: "I praise God, I thank him for everything. Purposefully, you live every day for Him, and when He gives you the opportunity to speak up for Him or to do something in His name, you do it." Do you agree?
Publication date: September 19, 2014
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