The title of this post should be surprising considering the abundant emphasis about love on our site. The reason I ask the question: “Am I a Hater?” is because I recently celebrated the victory of the Dallas Mavericks over the Miami Heat in the NBA championship series. But I ask the question because I really celebrated the defeat of the talent-laden and self-assured Miami Heat, a team led by Lebron James, the man seen by most as the best player in the NBA, more than I celebrated Dallas’ victory.
Before going further, let me say that I am a big Derrick Rose fan that became even more opposed to the Heat after they soundly defeated my hometown Bulls. But that is not the only reason I dislike the Heat!
Here are a few reasons I dislike the Heat:
- Two of the NBA’s best five players (James and Dwyane Wade) teamed up to play together, then added another top 15 player (Chris Bosh). Everybody remembers a time in their youth where all the biggest kids formed a team that beat up on the little guys and made sure no one else could get more than one game on the court at a time. For all of us that ever experienced this, we were overjoyed to see the bullies get beat.
- The Heat had a we-are-going-to-destroy-everyone preseason celebration seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmwJipHdqpA and a championship-like-celebration after they beat the Celtics in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
- James and Wade mocked the sickness of NBA finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTetY03D4Oc
Now I am a pastor and you didn’t come to my blog to read my sports thoughts. Now I must answer my question: “Am I a Hater?” I must confess, I am a hater! For sure, it is fun to enjoy sports and even have some villains in sports to pull against (don’t even get me started on the Duke Blue Devils).
But all that said, I realize that my disdain for the Lebron James bully pick-up team, I mean Miami Heat, was also due to underlying jealousy.
To many of us it seems like Lebron James has it all. It also seems like his skill is disproportionate to his work ethic. No matter how hard I work, I can never have the body, build, or athleticism of James. This guy is more physically gifted to play the game of basketball than about 99.9999 percent of the population could even hope to be, and that is probably a low estimate. James has been seen as the future of basketball since he was 13 years old. As a guy who spent a good portion of my life working and dreaming to one day just play college basketball, to see a guy this good, this successful, makes me sick. It makes me jealous. It makes me a hater.
And the truth is, all of us have to battle desires to have someone else’s life. You might want to have another woman’s looks, another man’s spouse, another person’s wealth, or someone else’s abilities. Everyone has his or her own Lebron James. Are you a hater? Very likely.
So, how do we fight our hate? We look to the person Jesus Christ and see a man who really had everything, I mean the universe did everything He said and even angels sang His praises. This same Jesus takes on human flesh and lives a life knowing little more than circumstantial poverty. He above all of us, should have despised this life. Yet we know, out of love for us he did not despise this life, but even looked with joy towards His own execution (Hebrew 12:1-3) while he died for His enemies (Romans 5:6-8). That is, he joyfully lived a difficult life and died a humiliating death with joy, trusting His reward—eternity with the smile of His father for His sacrifice plus eternal fellowship with the people He died to forgive.
Jesus understood that nothing that this life can offer is worth comparing to what was His in God the Father’s right hand. So we too should have a similar mindset. There should be no jealousy towards Lebron James—what he has in basketball skills pales in comparison to what we have in Christ Jesus. For those in Christ there should be no jealousy towards a beautiful woman for will have a perfect body soon enough, no jealousy for someone else’s spouse because you will be forever with Christ, no desire for someone else’s fortune for we serve the King whose fortune is inexhaustible.
Jesus frees us from desiring someone else’s life, because we have eternal life, both in length and quality. So drop the hate, drop the jealousy, and next year go Bulls plus anybody but the Heat. It’s still sports!