Later this week, Lance Armstrong is reportedly going to admit that he took performance-enhancing drugs which helped him win seven Tour de France titles. The interview is taking place on Oprah and there is a lot of discussion about Lance, cheating, the attempt to control the spin of the story, and so on. While many find it revolting that Armstrong allegedly used PED’s, or that he would reportedly hurt many people who didn’t want to help cover up his tracks, others are conflicted about the money raised through the LIVESTRONG foundation to support people battling cancer.
I’m reminded that any time we elevate a person- we set them (and ourselves) up for a fall. I think Armstrong has become more famous for his LIVESTRONG foundation than his seven Tour de France titles. Millions of people wore his yellow bracelets, T-shirts, and contributed money directly to the foundation because of Lance Armstrong and what he stood for. While there is nothing wrong with giving to a charity/foundation/church that we believe in- we run the risk of idolatry when we put them on an elevated platform and nearly deify someone (we do this with a lot of celebrities- but also normal everyday people in our lives).
We should remember the truth that we learn in the movie Elf– when Will Ferrell’s character see’s a fake Santa Claus in the mall, he exposure the fake saying, “You sit on a throne of lies! We all, from time to time, sit on a throne of lies. I might wear a mask that keeps people from knowing the real me, or hide some secret sin. Maybe we struggle with pride to the point where we think of ourselves as being better than those around us.
In the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This is not prescriptive, but descriptive- meaning that Jesus is describing what each of us are: poor in spirit. We are all sinful, broken, and hurt people. Thinking anything else about ourselves is a lie. When we become aware of our brokenness and sinfulness- that is when we begin to look up and to see Jesus and what Jesus has done for us. The love and grace of God through Jesus lifts us up- and rather than sitting on a throne of lies we can confidently sit on the knowledge that through Jesus we are called daughters and sons of God.
When we lose track of our sinfulness; when we lose sight of our brokenness; when we think that we’re ok, or even that we’re better off than those around us- we set ourselves up for a fall. But when we are aware (sometimes painfully so) of our sin, confess it, and look to God- then we are lifted up.
God, help me to see my brokenness, convict me of my sin so that I might look to You and put my whole trust in You and Your Son Jesus rather than in myself. Thank you for grace. Thank you for the gift of Salvation. Amen.