Josh Hamilton from a Biblical Perspective
Warning: “Religion” post. Not for everyone.
“Unfortunately, it happened. It just reinforces to me that if I’m out there getting ready for a season and taking my focus off the most important thing in my recovery, which is my relationship with Christ, it’s amazing how those things creep back in.”
I’m sure most of you have heard about Josh Hamilton’s relapse into alcohol, and maybe have seen the Girls Gone Wild-esque pics of him with other women than his wife. For myself, I hate hearing about things like this, because while I’m not an outspoken Christian like Josh was before his lapse, or many other athletes you see on TV or people you may know, I am a subscriber in many of the things they believe and I feel like their behavior discredits the message. It is the whole “your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear a word you’re saying thing”. On the other hand, I feel a lot of compassion for Josh and can’t bring myself to condemn him in the slightest.
Here’s the deal:
Christians are human beings. For that matter, so is the man whom we call our Savior. We believe he also was God, but yet he was tempted in ways I cannot even fathom, and yet he never missed the mark. He never stepped out of selflessness and into selfishness. But we feel assured that as he was tempted like we were, we have a God who “gets” us. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Josh hasn’t been a Christian that long. This is a pretty recent change. While we believe the new birth happens instantly once a person acknowledges the sovereignty of Christ over their lives, growth is a process, much like physical growth. No one is born a full-grown human being, and no one is “reborn” a fully developed spiritual Christian, either. Development takes time and the support of others, which means a pastor and local church. We still have the same bodies and minds that like doing the same things we used to do. For Josh, that’s drugs and alcohol. Christianity isn’t about a change of mind per se’, although that is part of it, and that is the part of it that takes time. It takes time to learn to outgrow selfishness and learn to love our neighbors as ourself. (Romans 10:9-10, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Peter 2:1-2, 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4:11-24)
Christ directs us to “abide in Him”. We believe that while it is Christ’s life than now lives in us, it’s up to us to stick with him. This is what Josh acknowledged, that he had got away from the things that helped him in the first place. If we don’t stick closely to our relationship with God, we’ll naturally revert back to the old things we enjoyed. He’ll never leave us or stops loving us, but we can grow distant from him just like you can grow distant with a relative or friend and open the door to all sorts of wrong. (John 15:1-7, Hebrews 13:5, 2 Peter 2:20-22)
Truly spiritual Christians will want to help Josh, not throw rocks at him. A man once observed that “the church is the only army that kills off its own wounded.” Sad but true. Now is the time for Josh to have the support of his friends, family and pastors. We don’t know what was going on in his mind that day, his mood, or what was going on in his life. I think if we had the money and influence that he has, some of us may have done a lot worse. (Galatians 6:1-2, John 8:1-11)
Despite this, he probably should be held to a higher standard. You can’t claim to love God and do this sort of thing and not offend people or open yourself up to criticism. It shouldn’t come from the church, but it’s going to come from some people and in some ways it’s probably deserved. His actions still have repercussions. The key is to wake up and move on. I, for one, don’t know how his wife is going to handle this, but she couldn’t be blamed for getting away from him. (Proverbs 1:31, 25:26)
I’ve long had misgivings about professional Christian athletes. They have a lot more money than most of us do, work with a much wilder crowd than most of us do and travel a lot more than most of us do. They’re away from their families, and like us, they get bored and lonely at times. I don’t think I could do it. I just hope they have some teammates that can help them stay accountable.
I can relate to Josh, as I was a world class screw-up myself until Christ. It’s only through a relationship with God I was able to get off of drugs and have some order and sanity in my life. (Personal story time). I also know what it is like to get away from that and put my focus on the wrong things, and have the temptations to do some stupid things come charging back into my life. I never missed it in such a public way as Josh, and I know that the hardest person in the world to forgive can be yourself. You have to learn to brush aside failure and go back to disciplining your mind and putting under the physical inclinations to do wrong through the help of God’s Spirit. The best part of it, I have found, is that God is not condemning but rather amazingly merciful and gracious. (Micah 7:18-19, Isaiah 43:25). I’ve also found the more I dwell on failure, the more I end up repeating it.
I know a lot of you may find this weird or strange, and I promise I’ll be sticking to baseball with 99% of my writing instead of preaching, but I just wanted to address it and hopefully bring some understanding. Anyway, I just hope Josh can put this behind him. His story has been an inspiring one to say the least, and if he chooses to do so, he can learn from this and move on and still be an inspiration. I’m rooting for him.