LeBron James and the Glory of God
Did you watch Sunday night’s basketball championship game? Whether you did or not, you probably heard that the Cleveland Cavalier’s victory was the first major sports championship won by a Cleveland team since 1964! This means that my husband, an Akron, Ohio, boy has never seen any of his Cleveland teams win! Until now. (Does that make you feel young, honey, or old?!)
What does this have to do with the glory of God? You may be reading this because you are wondering that very question. We’ll get to that – if in our quick, internet world you decide to read on!
Sunday’s game will almost certainly go down as the most important and memorable game LeBron has ever played. This victory will be the grandest, sweetest victory LeBron will ever have. But this victory and all its glory is not only about winning the first Cleveland championship in 52 years, but even more so, for LeBron, it’s about “coming home.” This championship is about a lifetime of struggle – achievement, hardship – success, sadness – joy, failures – victory, and most of all….. leaving and “coming home.” He said, “Our fans, they ride or die.” The Cleveland fans never gave up on their teams, and he exclaimed, “They deserve it.”
When LeBron was asked why this championship is so special (dumb question, right?), He said, “I’m home…..Throughout my 13-year career, I’ve done nothing but be true to the game, give everything I’ve got to the game, put my heart, my blood, sweat, tears into the game, and people still want to doubt what I’m capable of doing,” James said. “So that was a little icing on the cake for myself to just let me know that everything I’ve done, it results in this. They say hard work pays off, and that’s what happened tonight.”
His coach commented, “He doesn’t know anything other than grind. He doesn’t know anything other than sacrifice for this.”
Can you see the common theme manifesting in LeBron’s life? Can you see what we all deep down know is true? Hard work, diligence, pain and suffering can bring big payoffs later? There have been many similar stories throughout history of Olympic athletes, musicians, bright business people, even martyred religious figures who possess a certain mysterious knowledge that their sacrifices will bring glory – someday, even if it is after death!
A painful life can lead to glory in the future. That’s the magic of fairy tales. It is Cinderella, Mother Theresa, Jim Elliot, the Prodigal Son. Sure, we all say, he’s a multiplied millionaire, he is happy! I am not writing to examine every area of LeBron’s life, but I am sure this victory is not about the money. It’s about the glory – the glory of bringing a championship back to the city of Cleveland – the glory of seeing what this victory means to the faithful fans – the glory of being the prodigal son who came home with his city and family welcoming him! Even as I write this article, the Cleveland celebration and parade are happening – LeBron and his team are experiencing the glory of this championship.
This brings us to our question: What does LeBron James and the Cavalier’s win have to do with the glory of God?
Think of the grandest natural scene you have ever gazed upon, the most beautiful, moving piece of music you have ever listened to, the most prominent display of athletic genius you have ever witnessed — times infinity! The goal of the universe is to see the glory of God on display and somehow God reveals Himself even through hard work, pain, suffering, blood, sweat and tears! How would we know God as our Redeemer, our Deliverer, our Comforter, our Forgiver if we never experienced any pain or trauma? Anyone who believes in a higher power knows and hopes that our lives have meaning and that someday it will all work out. In fact, the Christian message centers around the concept that pain produces glory. It is the most wonderful story of the universe – the true story of Jesus!
The ultimate goal of God’s glory practically jumps out of every page of the Bible. Almost every story, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Jesus and his disciples, the list goes on and on, tells of man’s suffering and God’s deliverance. The more intense the competition (7 game playoff!) the grander the exhibition! The deeper the pain, the more satisfying the comfort. The harder we fall, the more merciful God can be to us. The larger the depth of our grief, the more room in our lives for God to fill that vacuum with His love. And throughout Scripture, the glory of God is emphasized over and over again. So it must be something so spectacular that it is worth the pain. Paul states it clearly in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
The mystery of the cross leads to the revealing of the glory of God. Jesus suffered and rose again, that we, too, may know this will happen to us. We should not seek out pain, for it will come to us anyway. But when it does, we need to use it to begin to know the limitless depths of the glory of God. God’s modus operandi is for us to know Him completely in all that He is capable of doing. You see this glory is all about Him, not us! American’s don’t want to hear that much – but it is true. The most fulfilling life is all about Him and His glory which we will share!
The glory of the Lord – no words can express – the vastness of the galaxies, the spin of the subatomic particles, the depths of the black holes, the incalculable speed of the division of cells in the growth of a fetus and the miracle of birth, the grandeur of the snow covered mountains, the soothing sound of a babbling brook, the power of a lightning bolt, the incomprehensible human brain, the protection of a mother bear for her cubs, the magnificence of a blue whale leaping over the ocean, the comfort of feeling at home, the fellowship of true friendship, the feeling of safety after being rescued, the splendor of a royal wedding, the sparkle of a fine gem, the simple beauty of a pastel sunset, the completeness of listening to an orchestra in perfect harmony, the elegance of Handel’s Messiah – these, along with the roar of 2 million Cleveland fans screaming at the parade – are nothing in comparison with the glory of God which will be fully revealed to us someday!
“And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together:
for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”