“You Are the Replacement Ref” – When Others Wrong You (& When We Get It Wrong)

If you watched the Monday Night Football’s Seahawks and Packers game this week, you still cannot believe the debaclewe witnessed. How in the world did these replacement refs miss this? How did the instant reply official uphold it and how does the NFL release a statement saying the ruling of simultaneous catch was correct? Aaron Rodgers is right, “That’s garbage, obviously…. They are still covering their butt there.” It feels like conspiracy – A conspiracy to ruin the game!

But it’s just a game. And there is no conspiracy. It’s a business and the refs, the players, the fans are all part of this game. Further, this game is played mostly by millionaires so billionaires can make more and on another level, so the rest of us can enjoy the action, drama and camaraderie of it.

A quick word about what I suspect is going to happen with the term “replacement refs.”  In just 48 hours, it’s become the punchline of jokes, concerning ex-boyfriends, ex-husbands, bad supervisors, and politicians.  They’re going to be right down there with the TSA workers.  It will likely evolve into the new catch all excuse for us like “El Nino” was in the 90’s. (Hey fellow sports fans, let’s remember that we need to take it easy on these unqualified people, they’ve been put in a position destined to fail by those who should know better).

Many of us see sports are a microcosm for life. It’s the triumph over adversity, the stories of underdogs, and the perseverance in performance, especially when your not at optimal. It feels like one of the few places in life where we can hope for the unexpected and some times, a miracle happens. And it’s a place where there is supposed to be justice.

So when there are bad calls made, depending on team loyalties, we might get upset. I too was worked up about this – still am in some ways. It’s so ridiculous, it’s so unnecessary, it’s senseless and I’m not even a Packers fan … (I could go another 100 words like this :)

But at some point real life catches up with most of us and we ask ourselves why do we get so upset about such things? Theoretically, the NFL will figure this out but it did get me thinking about the way I respond to the injustices in my life and what I see around me. It also made me ask myself, “What about the times when I am like the replacement ref?”

There’s this incredible scene in Scripture (II Samuel 11) when the prophet Nathan confronts his close friend King David. He tells him this parable story of a greedy rich man who took something of great worth (their family ewe) from a poor man. David angrily demands to know who is this man? And Nathan responds, “You are the man!” It’s a powerful moment that reveals hypocrisy, injustice and conviction.

In all these types of scenes, it’s difficult to not recall the unfair and unjust treatments that have happened to us. In some ways, it’s harder to not recall the times where we’ve wronged  others. Maybe we didn’t know better, maybe we did but it was a bad moment of failure – whatever – these moments reveal our hypocrisy, injustice and conviction.

Among the lessons we can learn here is that humanity will always get something wrong. The way we we live, govern and officiate the aspects of our lives leaves us always getting something wrong. What always matters is how we respond to when we’ve been wronged and how we respond when we have wronged others.

Yesterday, President Obama made a very significant speech on the issue of human trafficking. In some ways I’m frustrated because this is a global issue that should be treated with greater urgency many years ago but in other ways, I’m grateful for all the strides being taken by incredible organizations, servant-hearted people and those in government (all are needed).

Back in April, I actually got to attend a briefing at the Department of State with International Justice Mission. They told us that throughout the fall and into 2013, the President would be announcing some strong inniatives to fight human trafficking. It was great to read the transcript late last night because  the amazing thing is that human trafficking is an issue that can be overturned.

And I’m trying to be cute with football language here, human trafficking really can be overturned, like colonial slavery. Today we can work to eliminate the oppressor, eliminate the customer, eliminate the market, legislate, protect the children, women and young men. Those who have been fighting this issue tell us that with proper strategy, cooperation, and execution – tens of thousands (if not hundreds) of people can be saved from enslavement.

Throughout our lives, we have opportunities to do more, give more and become more. There are things we can do today to help those near us. And there are things that we can do to help those we don’t know and may never see. These things come with a cost, with sacrifice, and with great difficulty. But may our prayer be not only do we do a better job at than the “replacement refs” but that we do what God has led us to do. May it be our prayer to right the wrongs.

More to say but thanks for reading!

You can read more about human trafficking at IJM, including their statement on the President’s speech.

You can read the President’s transcript on human trafficking here.

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