Dang, Russ Wilson!

Let me say this up front: I like Russell Wilson or @dangeRussWilson as he is known on “the Twitter” ;) He did go to NC State for three years, but realized that was a huge mistake and transferred, so that’s not a strike against him any longer =)  (I bleed Carolina Blue).  Since his emergence on the field and spotlight of the NFL, I have admired his play.  He plays hard. He never gives up. He can make unbelievable plays with both his arm and his legs and knows when the situation calls for each.  I enjoyed seeing him win his first Super Bowl two seasons ago.  And I enjoyed even more seeing him lose his second this past season when he and the Seahawks lost to my Patriots. However, even in that loss he was impressive.  He didn’t make excuses. He stepped up as a leader and took the blame, whether he deserved it or not. That’s what leaders do. They take the blame when things go wrong and they give credit to everyone else, but themselves, when things go right.  Russell Wilson is a leader on the field.

Even more importantly, Russell Wilson is a leader off of the field. I don’t know Russell personally, but I feel comfortable calling him my brother. Why? Because we share, I believe, the same faith. We’ve both been saved by faith in the same Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  And I have loved how Russell Wilson has been unashamed of that faith commitment throughout his spotlight in the NFL.  I was super impressed when losing the Super Bowl in the most gut-wrenching of ways, Wilson, while disappointed in the loss, was quick to remember and voice that his identity was not found in how many Super Bowl rings he has on his fingers, but rather is found in one King who gave His life for the forgiveness of his sins. Nothing can change that, not even the worst of disappointments and heartaches in life, of which losing the Super Bowl is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.

I really like Russell Wilson for all of those reasons, which is why when I read a tweet on his Twitter feed last week, I was so shocked.  Here’s the tweet that surprised me:

Now this obviously is a movie that has created a lot of buzz in the culture in which we live.  And Russell Wilson made a decision to go and see this move, which as a grown man he has the right to do so.  But what shocked me about this tweet was that this, as far as I know, is a brother in Christ who is tweeting this.  As a follower of Christ, he made a decision to watch this movie and then not only to watch the movie but to publicly endorse it as “great.”  Now, I’ll just be very blunt and say that I don’t see how any follower of Christ could honestly describe Fifty Shades of Grey as “great.”  It is a movie and novel that exalts actions that the Bible clearly labels as sinful. Therefore to make the decision to see such a movie that goes so far over the line between what is acceptable and unacceptable for a Christ-follower to watch is disappointing, but then to endorse it as “great,” is even more mind-boggling. 

And I wasn’t the only one who noticed the glaring inconsistency of what this Twitter status communicated compared to the public persona that Wilson has created of himself up to this point, which is that of a fully committed and faithful follower of Jesus Christ.  By and large the responses on his Twitter feed to this status were that of  shock and disappointment.   And the shock and disappointment seemed to be across the board from those who, like myself, would call themselves a committed follower of Christ and those who clearly would not.  Everyone saw the inconsistency here and dare I say it, the hypocrisy.  “How can someone who is a Christian see and endorse such a movie, with such clearly explicitly sinful content?” 

And it seems that Wilson quickly saw the backlash on this Twitter feed and replied, but did so in a way that, in my opinion, did not make the matter any better, but even worse:

Here, he agrees that the movie is both shocking and disturbing, which I’m sure it is by all accounts. However, he espouses the view that the action to watch the movie and endorse it did not in any way make him less faithful.  

As Christ-followers, none of us are perfect. That’s not who we claim to be. I am not perfect. I sin every day.  And so does every other Christian. I do and say things that can be hypocritical and betray my faith commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  However, when we find ourselves having made a bad decision, a sinful one that brings shame upon ourselves, but even more importantly upon our Savior, we have a decision to make.   We can attempt to excuse our sin and justify ourselves, which in my opinion is what Russell Wilson chose to do. Or we can confess our sin, our mistakes and rather than justifying ourselves, run once again in faith to the one who has justified us—Jesus Christ.   Jesus has died for all the sinful failures like Russell Wilson, Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele, and myself.  Through His perfect life lived, sacrificial death on the cross for our sins, and glorious resurrection, all sinners who come to Him by faith get the privilege of being treated as if they had never sinned before a holy God and as if they had lived a perfectly righteous life. Why? Because Jesus took all of their sin and gave to them all of His righteousness. 

And so if I could say something to Russell Wilson as a fellow brother in Christ and even as a pastor it would be the following: “You’ve shown you are a sinner like all of us and make bad, foolish decisions.  But now show that you are a Christian. Own up to it, just like you would on the football field when you throw an interception.  And show all those who follow you, both those who do so because they are rooting for you and those who do so waiting to watch you fall, where, even we as Christians, run to when we fall—back to the cross.” 

Russell Wilson made a bad decision earlier in his life—to go to NC State. (I'm just kidding about this part, I hope you all realize that) He realized it was wrong and made a better decision. He transferred.  On a much more serious note he’s made another bad decision and in a very public manner through social media where he gets to influence millions of people every day.  I just want him to use that public persona and platform in this instance as a great opportunity to communicate gospel truths to a watching world. That truth is that as Christians, we are not perfect. However, by God’s grace, we know where to run to when we aren’t.  And as people see us running there, maybe they will run there with us.