Don’t leave the team with ten…
Genesis 18: 20-32 (NRSVA)
20 Then the Lord said, ‘How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! 21 I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.’
22 So the men turned from there, and went towards Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham came near and said, ‘Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?’ 26 And the Lord said, ‘If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.’ 27 Abraham answered, ‘Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?’ And he said, ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.’ 29 Again he spoke to him, ‘Suppose forty are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of forty I will not do it.’ 30 Then he said, ‘Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there.’ He answered, ‘I will not do it, if I find thirty there.’ 31 He said, ‘Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.’ 32 Then he said, ‘Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.’
‘Doesn’t the Judge of all the Earth judge with justice?’
Have you ever been injured in a game?
Whether you are a novice or a professional, people are always hit accidentally, tackled hard or occasionally brought down to the ground like a sack of potatoes… and when that happens, it hurts and anger often boils over!
How often on the television or from the stadium do we see players launch themselves towards an opponent, which is quickly interrupted by fellow players — who do not want any further pain afflicted, nor do they wish them to be sent off. Footballers often forget that in being sent off, the entire team is affected when taken down to ten men or women. It often takes a calm and collected teammate to intervene and force the tackled or hurt to take a breath and calm down, trusting that the referee will make the right decision and act accordingly.
Too often in life, we lash out without thinking of the people we hurt indirectly through our words and actions. It can take a lot of self-control and grace, but if we wish to act justly, then we need to listen to our ‘inner Abraham’, reminding us that the righteous should never suffer through the wickedness of the few…
When we are brought down
May we stand and dust ourselves off
When we are hurt
May we make space to heal
When we are attacked
May we use words of peace in the face of hatred
and hold out hands of compassion instead of fighting fists…
So be it.