Kobe and Redemption

The evil that men do lives after them

The good is oft interrèd with their bones.

— Mark Antony, in Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare

I don’t know where Shakespeare got that one: most of the people I know who have passed on, have left legacies of good. But these days, you could add the words “thanks so social media” to the first line and it would be true. Not exactly iambic pentameter, but you get my point, I hope.

John Fischer, in his daily online offering, The Catch, wrote a lovely piece about Kobe Bryant the other day. In fact, much of his writing this past week has been about the basketball star, and the things he meant to the community. (It’s interesting how an urban area of nearly 19 million people can be a “community”.)

Such a surreal moment, watching the Raptors and the Spurs take turns, running down the 24-second clock to honour Kobe Bryant (#24) on Sunday night.

The timing of John’s piece was interesting and possibly coincidental, as it came as a Washington Post reporter had run into trouble after she tweeted a link to a story about Bryant’s rape charge in 2003. I won’t go into the details, but this item from ABC in Australia is a pretty good rundown.

The point from reading John’s posts — something more on-the-ground and personal than tweeting a link to a story — is that Kobe Bryant apparently repented and got on with life — not as a basketball superstar, but as a member of his community.

And repenting is something that’s available to us — and something required of us, if we are to survive.

“I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

— Luke 13:3 & 5

As He often does, Jesus injects a double meaning into His words. The situations He addresses with the disciples involve seemingly unjust and unexpected worldly deaths — a tower falling on people or Pilate massacring Jews and mixing their blood with that of the sacrifice. But “perish” also means being separated from God forever, and that, too, can happen in ways we humans might think are unjust.

But when we repent, God does something only He can do. Heaven knows we humans can’t.

He forgets.

Oh, the enemy tries to remind Him of what we’ve done, but

… if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.

1 John 2:1

and when the arguments in front of the Throne are finished,

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,

having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

— Colossians 2:13-14

So while the enemy — that nattering nabob of negativism — constantly tries to make us remember what rat-finks we’ve been in the past, we need to keep in mind that if we have confessed and repented, God has forgotten.