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Mike Vick is a Dog

May 20, 2009

Okay, he's not really a dog, but what word immediately comes to mind when you hear the name Michael Vick? Dogs, right? So, why don't we  just call him a dog? Even better, let's just make him a dog, put him on a leash, and tie him to a tree? Mike and the stigma of his sin have become one.

The sports world is about to obsess over Michael Vick again. You remember him, don't you? He's the former stud Falcons QB who bankrolled a vicious dog-fighting ring out of his Virginia home. Dogs who couldn't fight--or couldn't win--were hung, electrocuted, drowned, among other things. The whole thing was rather ghastly.

Vick is back in the news because he's about to be released from prison to home confinement, and he plans to attempt a comeback. The whole dog-fighting scandal cost him more than 200 million dollars in potential earnings, some estimate.

That's not all Vick lost, though. People have tagged him as a vicious, Black inner-city "hood" who doesn't deserve to be forgiven or restored. Based on the hate he's received--some deserved, some not--you'd think that he lied the nation into a baseless war that killed hundreds of thousands of people while torturing others in dungeons around the world. George W. Bush did that, but he walks free. As much as I abhor the death of animals, they  "ain't" more precious than people (Matthew 10:29-31).

Everybody messes up in life. Some of us pay for it in a big way--like Vick--and some of us escape the hot glare of the spotlight. There is Someone who sees it all, though, and He judges the star with the same grace and mercy that He judges you and me. If Michael Vick has asked God to forgive him--and I believe he has--rest assured that God has forgiven him.

If God can forgive a king like Manasseh (2 Kings 21:1-17; 2 Chronicles 33:1-20), a man who led Israel into idolatry, burned his own children in rituals to foreign gods, and killed numerous innocent people, why couldn't he forgive Mike Vick? BTW, it is believed that Manasseh is the king who put the prophet Isaiah in a hollowed-out tree trunk and had sawed in half.

God's forgiveness allows us to separate ourselves from the wrongs we've done--me from the hate I sometimes harbor, you from the lies you tell, or whatever sins we both commit. God's forgiveness allows us to redefine who we are, so that the things we've done don't permanently attach themselves to us.

How does God separate us from the stigma of our past? Ezekiel 36:25-27 shows how God gave His people a new start when they went astray: "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."

Mike Vick needs a clean start and I, for one, hope he gets it, whether he ever plays football again or not. In what area of your life do you need a new start?


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