Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Condition of the Heart

This past college football bowl season I went crazy over the Fiesta Bowl matchup between undefeated but lowly regarded Boise State and perennial power Oklahoma. You can read my post here. It was one of the best games I had ever seen.

After the game I was watching the interviews of Boise State players. One of the players had his arm around a cheerleader and my wife commented, “Why is that cheerleader in the picture? She needs to step away and let the player talk about the game.” I thought it was a pretty funny comment from a former cheerleader.

Then in the next few moments the football player, Ian Johnson, abruptly stopped talking about the game to the interviewing reporter and on national television proposed to the cheerleader, Chrissy Popadics. Wow, what a day for Johnson who had just scored the winning points of the game and won the hearts of romantics all over the nation. Or did he?

Today is the wedding day for Johnson and Popadics in Boise, Idaho. In addition to their invited guests there is security personnel scattered throughout the crowd. Why? Johnson has been receiving threats. Why? Johnson is black and Popadics is white.

Surprised? Keith Anderson wasn’t. Anderson is a former Boise State player who has been married to a white woman for 14 years and has two sons. “When Ian did that on television, every black person I know said, ‘He’s a fool. That boy just asked for trouble.’”

Mamie Oliver, a leader in Idaho’s African-American community and a former professor of social work at Boise State said at the time, “Uh-oh, this is gonna bite him.”

Oliver added, “There’s some people that have the attitude that people don’t have the right to be in love with who they’re in love with. It became the black young man proposing to the white girl. People have baggage and it just caused that stuff to come out.”

Yes, people have “baggage”. But how did they get that baggage? There’s not space to address American history and that of Idaho, the seventh whitest state in the union and something of a haven for white supremacists. In short, people get a variety of broken life experiences packed in their bags (ie: heart) during the living of life. Prejudices, bitterness, envy, and hatred are some of the worst. And the bags tend to open when “triggers” are pulled like a black man proposing to a white woman on television.

Friends, this is why I’m a follower of Christ. Education can’t change the heart. Money and success can’t change the heart. Legislation can help protect us from the sick hearts of others but it can’t change those hearts. But when one becomes a follower of Christ they get a “heart transplant”. A believer receives the heart of Christ in place of his own.

You say, “Wow Scott, I know a lot of Christians that still seem prejudiced. I know some that are just as bitter or greedy as someone who is not religious.”

According to the Bible if a person has truly been born of Christ, then his life will go through a complete transformation. If the transformation doesn’t take place, then that person hasn’t really become a Christian, no matter how religious he is. (See 1 John 3:4-10)

Life transformation is a primary reason that I follow and serve Christ.

I’m praying for a blessed day full of joy and safety for Ian and Chrissy. God bless them in their marriage and life together.

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