The Australian Cricket team. I wonder how they are going? Haven’t heard about them in a while…
I had the opportunity to meet Steve Smith maybe about five years ago now through my workplace. He was invited to come up and speak to local kids who had just made their local representative side. I also had the opportunity to have a photo and various chats to him during this promotion. We found ourselves during that afternoon having a few conversations about things.
What struck me that afternoon was that he seemed like a guy who carried himself with a lot of integrity, a quiet demeanour and steely determination. I thought he would have been the opposite. I honestly though he would be egocentric, narcissistic and not interested.
At the time he was in his early 20’s and was playing for NSW, not yet to break into the Australian team. We spoke freely multiple times over the course of the afternoon, from life as an athlete, through to family life and what that looked like for him. He was only meant to be there for an hour, but ended up staying for more than double that. He was gracious, humble and honouring of the job he had as a role model for those kids there that particular afternoon.
I’m one of the many millions of people who are shocked by what has transpired recently in South Africa.
But I want to understand it from the perspective of someone of faith.
So far it has been deemed in the team set up that three team members conspired and premeditated to alter the condition of the ball, which is illegal in the game of cricket. These team members have since been banished from the touring party and are headed home, to face what looks like a media firing squad.
They have broken the law of the game, and the spirit of the game.
But are we too quick to judge? Some would argue that this happens quite a bit amongst the nations that play Cricket, and history would tell us this is true based on past convictions.
The players have displayed poor judgement, to which no one is questioning. Deep down we are all advocates for justice. When the laws have been broken, when behaviour has been untoward, those individuals must have their actions come to justice.
But whose judgement? The Australian public? The international media?
The Pharisaical behaviour is to quickly point the finger, judge and move on. Who does it help? No one.
I prefer to take the Jesus approach.
3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
(John 8:3-8 NIV)
It is on the surface difficult to draw parallels between a woman committing adultery in the first century and the Australian Cricket team cheating in the 21st century, but we are looking for the principle here.
Jesus is essentially saying to the Pharisees that they may judge her if they themselves have not sinned. As you can imagine, not one of them after this stood there and cast stones.
So why do we take the same perspective of the Pharisees and judge, condemn and cast out celebrities and sporting stars when they’ve done wrong? Have we not done wrong ourselves?
In the court of public opinion, justice is rarely served.
At the end of the day whether you’ve committed a deceitful act on the sporting field, adultery, murder or simply lied, you’ve sinned. We sinners need a friend. We are so quick to cast others out of teams and communities.
Justice still needs to be served. Punishment and consequences need to be apparent when the law has been broken. But whilst justice comes from the governing bodies that write the law, judgement comes from God. Our Pharisaical approach of judging each others sin doesn’t help anyone.
Why don’t we instead get beside these young men and help them rehabilitate? To me it seems a more Jesus like approach than throwing stones.