A Tarheel commented on their NCAA victory over Michigan State on Monday night. Referencing the humiliation of North Carolina’s 2008 semi-final loss to the University of Kansas Jayhawks, the player noted, “we worked so hard; we wanted to redeem ourselves.”
My brother Wes, writes, “There you have it – they redeemed themselves. They had failed miserably and humiliatingly and embarrassingly and shamefully, but now, one year later, after lots of hard work and believing in themselves, they had redeemed themselves.”
The use of theological language in sports has a long tradition going all the way back to Paul in the New Testament. Unfortunately, it has gotten blended with the self-help language of today and we have forgotten grace. My guess is the Tarheel didn’t understand the meaning of redemption; he was just saying we took the loss to Kansas as a challenge to try harder. That is good, but how much better to know the grace (undeserved favor) of Jesus made possible by His redeeming sacrifice on the cross.
Again, I give you the words of my little brother, “I see it over and over again, expressed by people who should know better, we have a very hard time accepting the fact that we cannot redeem ourselves – but there is one who can and does and did and will.”
In him[Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace… Ephesians 1:7 New International Version