Saturday, August 13, 2005

Samson and Terrell

I'm a football fan and I love talking football this time of year, but I'm sick to death of hearing about Terrell Owens. In case you don't follow pre-season football, Terrell Owens (T. O. to the rabid fan) is a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles. T. O. is the best player in the league. If you don't believe me, just ask him! Seriously, Owens is good -- very good -- but he is the poster child for selfishness. Everything T. O. does is for his own betterment. Period. He is the antithesis of a team player. All summer, Owens has been complaining that he is underpaid and has been asking for, or more accurately demanding a new contract. The thing is, Owens signed his current contract last year and it's good for six more years. There is no compelling evidence to restructure his contract, but still he whines.

Then this past week, T. O. had a shouting match with his coach and stormed out of training camp. The accounts of the confrontation differ, but it's obvious that Owens' attitude is a distraction for the whole team. It's hard to focus on getting a team ready when one player demands all the attention. A day or two later, T. O. was doing interviews with ESPN again denying any responsibility for his actions. It's to the point where I don't want to see this multi-millionaire egomaniac in uniform at all this season.

As I waded through the vast heaps of information detailing everything from Owens' past injury problems to his favorite breakfast cereal, it occurred to me that I had seen this act before. No, I'm not talking about T. O.'s antics over the past few years. I'm talking biblical characters, here.

Samson was another big shot. He was unchallengeable in physical strength -- a top athlete. The mighty warrior had cut down 1000 Philistines who had tried to trap him. Samson was also spoiled rotten. After spying a Philistine beauty on a trip, he came home to Mom and Dad and ordered them, "Go get her for me as my wife!" He seaw a skull full of honey and grabbed a fistful, even though it violated the strict Nazarite vows he had taken. He solicited prostitutes. Everything Samson did was to satisfy an immediate need. He lived on emotion. Even Samson's death wasn't the noble sacrifice we sometimes think it to be. He makes clear that he pulls down the pillars of the temple to exact revenge on those who had gouged out his eyes. It wasn't a victory for Israel. It was a hollow victory for it's judge, Samson.

What kind of man was this mighty warrior who allowed Delilah three chances to neutralize his incredible strength? You'd think he wouldn't have been stupid enough to betray his secret when it was blatently obvious that Delilah was working against him. After all, he had awakened once with seven fresh thongs tied around him and another time with the braids of his hair pinned down! But Delilah had him wrapped around her finger. She would give Samson whatever he wanted, which was the key to Samson's heart. It was all about him. Samson had incredible power, but he lacked the wisdom to use it properly. At the very least, he lacked the self-control to keep himself out of trouble. Samson's appetites drove him. His life was focused on pleasing himself; satisfying his felt needs as soon as humanly possible.

The resemblance to Terrell Owens is remarkable when you think about it. But isn't that the way we expect things these days? Even in the lives of Joe and Joanne Pewfiller. Others aren't important. It's all about me.

It's about my favorite worship style, meeting my family's needs, having a preacher who doesn't put me to sleep, not asking for too much of my time or my money, or forcing me to make any kind of real committment at all. It's the Terrell Owens attitude. The Samson Lifestyle. Yet Jesus talked about the exact opposite. The first will be last. The last will be first. If you hold tightly to your life, you'll lose it. If you give your life away, you'll find it. If you want to follow, take up your cross and follow. Then He gave us the ultimate example through His life:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

"Lord, show me where my attitude is too focused upon myself and give me strength to take up my cross each day to follow You."

1 comment:

jon said...

After we paid for our kids north east summer camp we found it tough to recover! I totally agree with you!