Is Michael Vick Being Real?

David Burchett

Michael Vick was somber as he asked forgiveness and admitted his mistakes. His comments were brief.

"I made a mistake of using bad judgment and making bad decisions. Those things just can't happen. Dogfighting is a terrible thing, and I do reject it."  He singled out NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Blank, coach Bobby Petrino and his teammates for personal apologies, saying "I was not honest and forthright in our discussions."

He also apologized to "all the young kids out there for my immature acts and what I did -- and what I did was very immature. So that means I need to grow up."

Most of the media reports dropped the following comments from their summaries of the statement.

"I'm upset with myself, and, you know, through this situation I found Jesus and asked him for forgiveness and turned my life over to God. "

The blogosphere is filled with comments that Vick is merely trying to save his backside and that he is anything but contrite. The critics may be right. But they may also be wrong. Sometimes when a man or woman hits bottom they are finally in the right position to look up. Unfortunately I am old enough to remember a much reviled politician who claimed to be sorry for his role as a political “hatchetman” in Richard Nixon’s White House. People mocked Chuck Colson suddenly finding Jesus and called it a “jailhouse conversion.” This story from Colson powerfully relates to Michael Vick.

One pastor stood up at the Founder's Dinner and recalled the time shortly after Colson's conversion when he challenged him: "Colson, I believe in Jesus Christ and I want to know how we can know if you're serious." Colson paused and answered, "I guess the best way to tell you whether I'm serious or not is for you see what I'm doing ten years from now."

It has now been thirty years and Chuck Colson has had an incredible ministry through Prison Fellowship. Time has proved that he was serious about following Jesus. Time will also tell whether Michael Vick is sincere. You don’t know. I don’t know. Only God can look into the heart of Michael Vick and know if his words are real. I really hate what Michael Vick did. I don’t hate him. A song by Andrew Peterson reminded me how I must separate sin and sinner. Peterson beautifully illustrates that I am a sinner saved by His amazing grace and that I am like every other sinner who ever lived or will live. Peterson’s lyrics hit home.

I am the woman at the well, I am the harlot
I am the scattered seed that fell along the path
I am the son who ran away
I am the bitter son who stayed

I am the angry men who came to stone the lover
I am the woman there ashamed before the crowd
I am the leper who gave thanks
I am the nine who never came

Having less repulsive sins on my resume than Michael Vick only matters to me. Paul tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Andrew Peterson sums up the really incredible good news in this song which is aptly titled, The Mystery of Mercy. We are so quick to ask God why He has forsaken us when things go wrong. But maybe the better question is asked by Peterson.

My God, my God
Why hast thou accepted me?

Why indeed? I pray that Michael Vick has found the mystery of mercy. Andrew Peterson says it well.

You took my sin and wrapped me in
Your robe and your ring
My God, my God
Why hast thou accepted me?
It’s a mystery of mercy
And the song I sing.

Vick took some very good steps with his comments.

"I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player," he said. He concluded by saying, "I offer my deepest apologies to everyone. And I will redeem myself. I have to."

I suppose there is little or no chance that Michael Vick will read these ramblings. If he did I would tell him that he can repair his reputation with the help of wise counsel. But redemption requires the power of God. Vick says he has made that commitment. Mercy may not come from the public but mercy comes running when you call the name of Jesus. I pray that he is being real. Time will tell.

When news of Chuck Colson's conversion to Christianity leaked to the press in 1973, The Boston Globe reported, "If Mr. Colson can repent of his sins, there just has to be hope for everybody."

There is hope for everybody. Paul wrote these words in a letter to his spiritual son Titus.

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,  he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. (Titus 3 - NLT)

There is hope for Michael Vick. For me. And for you.

Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through