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A young man with incredible physical abilities that give him great opportunities to lead and make a difference instead finds himself in the grips of his appetites and the influence of the wrong people. Finally these faults and flaws result in poor judgements and actions that bring his career to an end and sends him to life in prison.
Sounds like the news this week out of Massachusetts as Aaron Hernandez has been arrested on murder charges in what, at least initially, seems like a pretty strong case. Ironically, it is also the story that I will be preaching this Sunday at Bean's Corner. It is the story of Samson from the book of Judges. As I worked on finishing this week's message, I was struck by how much these two stories line up. Without giving away all of Sunday's sermon, let's look at these two stories.
Both of these young men were giften with physical strength and ability. Samson was a Nazarite, a special kind of vow/lifestyle, and had been gifted with amazing supernatural strength. Hernandez too, while not supernaturally gifted, possesses great physical ability that has made him an elite athlete with great success on the field. In fact, both men found themselves very successful in the field. Samson was undefeated, Hernandez a sought after and well paid player.
Unfortunately this great talent was matched by great personal appetites and poor impulse control. Samson, instead of channeling his gifts into carefully controlled, planned work to free his people, tends to be reactionary. Sure, he defeats a lot of Philistines, but only when he gets personally upset or offended by them. No righteous anger here. Similarly Hernandez has repeatedly been reported as a man of short temper and violent anger/outbursts. Rather than rule their passions, these two were ruled by them.
The Bible says "Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character.""(1 Corinthians 15:33). Hernandez has reported never been able to separate himself from the people he grew up around who are strongly suspected to be involved in gang and criminal activity. Samson had a bad company issue too. He tended to hang out with the very people who were enemies of his people. He dated, married, slept with the enemy. Many of the people he spent time with were violent people who eventually were the ones that betrayed him and resulted in him going to prison for life.
The saddest parallel of these two men is the potential abandoned. Samson had been gifted and raised up to deliver his people, but instead he lived only for himself and finally, in following his own heart, ended up not only failing to deliver his people, but found himself imprisoned and mocked by the very people he should have defeated. Hernandez, while not in a position to deliver a people from oppression, did have amazing potential. Not only did he still have much to offer his team on a road to victory, but he could have been a powerful positive role model to other young men who also grew up in a disadvantaged area and will need help to escape a cycle of violence and death. Instead of leading such people, he becomes a prisoner of that life.
Hernandez story isn't finished being written yet, and even if he is found guilty and imprisoned for life, he still has hope. He, like others before him, could surrender his life to Christ and allow Jesus to make a true transformation in him that would change his story into one of victory, even in prison. I pray that he allows Christ to free him from the parallels that right now exist between him and Samson. Samson himself, albeit briefly, did have a redemptive moment. At the end of his life, he finally cried out to God and was granted once again the ability to make a difference. Finally, he sacrificed himself and used his gift one more time.
I mourn for Aaron Hernandez and hope that someone is able to get through to him with the love and forgiveness of Christ. For all of us, we should look at the lives of these men and then take a hard look at ourselves and make sure that we are not finding ourselves caught up in our own pursuits to the destruction of what God would do through us.
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wonderful article..as I'm sure the sunday sermon will be too.. thank you for posting, Ira.. the comparison with the two lives is very interesting to say the least...
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