How to stand up for Christianity when Christians fail: Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams loses NBA Finals, shows strength and humility


Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams watches from the bench during the first half of Game 6 of the NBA Basketball Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee on Tuesday, July 20, 2021 (AP Photo / Paul Sancya )

A senior official of the American Catholic Church has resigned after the cell phone data was used to track him on Grindr, a queer dating app, and in gay bars. Twelve women deposit a lawsuit Tuesday against Liberty University, accusing the school of a pattern of mismanaging sexual assault and harassment cases.

And a Southern Baptist mega-church in florida was “shocked and devastated” to learn that a former campus pastor was recently arrested for allegedly treating and sexually assaulting a young girl aged twelve to seventeen.

“You don’t, because you don’t ask”

When Christians are in the news for all the wrong reasons, how should we respond to our criticisms and to culture in general? Consider three facts, then let’s focus on a powerful personal strategy.

One: Christianity never promises that Christians will be perfect.

Scripture cautions, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1: 8). Across the word of God and human history, it is difficult to find a great person of faith who has not also struggled with personal failure and weakness. It is unfair to blame a religion for breaking a promise it never made.

Of them: Conversely, God holds His children on a much higher level than our fallen culture.

Those who place their faith in Christ as Lord are “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The word of God exhorts the people of God: “All that is true, all that is honorable, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is beautiful, all that is laudable, if he there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think of these things ”(Philippians 4: 8). Our culture has a right to expect that we will do everything possible to live by these standards.

Three: God gives us the strength to live by his standards, but we must seek his help.

The Bible laments, “You have not, because you do not ask” (James 4: 2). The key to sanctification is to be so “poor in spirit” that we recognize how much we need what only God can do in our lives (Matthew 5: 3). When we refuse to seek God’s strength, forgiveness, and sanctifying power, it is not God’s fault when we fail.

Important as these facts are, our most compelling response to the sins of Christians is to live in a way that glorifies our Lord. To that end, consider this remarkable story.

“You made me a better coach”

Much of the attention in the sports world these days is focused on the Milwaukee Bucks and their superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo, after winning the NBA Championship on Tuesday night. However, today I am also interested in the coach of the losing team.

I wrote about Monty Williams a few days ago after learning about his remarkable faith in the face of gruesome adversity. After a driver on meth crashed into his wife’s car and killed her, Williams said at her funeral: “Everyone is praying for me and my family, which is right. But let’s not forget that there were two people in this situation. And this family also needs prayer. And we have no hard feelings against this family.

Now Coach Williams is make news again as he reacts to his team’s loss in the NBA Finals. Speaking to reporters after Tuesday night’s game, he choked and said: “I think it’s going to take me a minute. I don’t take it for granted. It’s hard to get here, and I wanted it so bad, you know? It’s hard to deal with right now.

Despite the pain of the loss, however, Williams stopped in the Bucks locker room to congratulate Antetokounmpo and the rest of his team. Putting his arm around Giannis, he said: “I just wanted to come and congratulate you as a man and a coach. You have earned it, and I am grateful for the experience. You made me a better coach. You made us a better team.

Why strength and humility need each other

Here we see both sides of godliness displayed: a strength of character and a humility that celebrates the strengths of others.

Many in our secular culture caricature Christians as weak. Friedrich Nietzsche warned that faith in God will prevent us from becoming the “overcomers” that we can and should be. Karl Marx taught that religion is the “opiate” of the masses who subjugate them to their masters. “Sweet Jesus, meek and meek,” is how many people see our Savior.

But those who know him know better.

He who could fast forty days in the wilderness, who drove the money changers out of the temple and resisted the days of torture to die in triumphant faith, was a man of remarkable strength. At the same time, Jesus was so humble that he ate with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:10).

The two actually dress each other. Our greatest strength comes from our Almighty Lord, but he can only give to those who humble themselves enough to admit that they need what only He can provide. Conversely, the more we experience the strength and power of our God, the less we need to prove ourselves to others (and to ourselves) and the more humble we can be with all.

The trapeze artist’s lesson

Monty Williams is proof of this: the more we trust God in humility, the more we experience his strength. And the more we experience his strength, the more we will learn to trust him.

In his daily devotion, Max Lucado offers this observation: “In one of Henri Nouwen’s books, he recounts the lesson in confidence that he learned from a great trapeze artist. The acrobat said, “The outfielder does nothing and the catcher does everything. I just have to reach out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch up to me and pull me safely over the apron. The outfielder must have confidence, with outstretched arms, that his catcher will be there for him.

Lucado continues: “In the great trapeze act of salvation, God is the receiver, and we are the aviators. We have confidence. Period. We only rely on God’s ability to catch us. As we trust him, a wonderful thing happens: we fly! Your Father never let anyone down. He won’t let you down. His grip is solid and his hands are open. Entrust yourself completely to its care. As you do this, you will find that it is possible – yes, possible – not to worry about anything.

Why do you need to trust your Father’s strength with humility today?

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