[263] Kobe
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[263] Kobe

The death of 41-year-old Kobe Bryant merited the extensive coverage it has received.  He was much in the news for more than two decades, a sporting figure who was worshipped by many adoring fans.  Yes, worshipped, in the sense of being revered, venerated, and adored. Not just admired—worshipped.

And that brings me to the public, secular reaction to his death.  He was regaled for the excellence of his performances and his commitment to excellence.  But it did not stop there.  He was revered for “giving so much to Los Angeles.” But there’s even more.  He was venerated for being “a great father and husband.”

He may ultimately have been all these things.  We don’t know.  We do know he was a great athlete, intensely dedicated to being the best he could be.  There is evidence of philanthropy as well.  We also know he was charged with rape in 2003, resulting in a long and drawn out legal proceeding that ended in a settlement–the polite word for payoff.  We also know he was on the brink of divorce from his wife but a few years ago.

I do not mention these negative things to judge him.  Many of us believers have plenty of disturbing items on our behavioral rap sheet as well. Sin is no respecter of persons.  I say these things because the secular world all but dismissed these things, grieving his loss as if there is no hope (1 Thessalonians, 4:13).

And such hopeless grieving is as it should be for those who believe this world is all there is. In that world, people like Kobe are worshipped, with their frailties dismissed or denied.  His life is polished, gussied up, to justify their allegiance to human gods.

For the Christian, word of Kobe’s passing moves quickly past the startling, I’ll-always-remember-where-I-was-when-I-heard-it shock, to the only concerns one should have for him.  Was he a believer?  Was he a disciple?  Only God knows that.  Eight other persons entered eternity at same time, one of which was his 13-year-old daughter.  They are just as important as Kobe, and for the Christian, prompt the same concerns.

The secular world doesn’t care.  In fact, one can only imagine the fury one would elicit if these eternal questions were voiced publicly.  But in the context of the eternal, they are the only real matters of concern.  I sincerely hope he and those seven others were believers–disciples.  Forty-one years is not long when weighed against eternity.  And I doubt God cares all that much about basketball.  DC

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