McNabb, the bench, and the freedom to fail

Strange that I would begin this day with a post about an NFL team not currently in the play-off’s, particularly when the BCS championship game was so good last night. But I never claim to not be a little strange. My only take on the game was that it was good, and that Auburn will most likely eventually have to forfeit the title in a few years when the pay-for-play investigation concludes. Auburn fans, don’t post hateful things: I’m seriously not pulling for this to happen, just predicting it.
Several weeks ago, just after the Bucs beat the Washington Redskins, Donovan McNabb was benched. Some players, including the vocal Clinton Portis, didn’t think this was a good decision. 
“In the locker room, I think that [the McNabb benching] that would scare a lot of guys,” Portis said on 106.7 The Fan, via the Washington Post. “That Donovan McNabb, who is proven to do so much, and who has done so much in the NFL, gets benched. I think it becomes a thing in the locker room like, ‘Man, if they bench Donovan, anybody can be benched. Or am I next or what’s next?’ And I think guys start playing for safety.”
Now Portis, who’s been in the league for a number of years, knows competition is part of the game. Those who compete and perform best in practice, will play on Sundays. But if QB’s are scared to make mistakes, if DB’s are scared to go for an interception, then I guess I could see how fear could really affect their play. Portis insinuates that fear doesn’t motivate people; it cripples them. You will get less out of a fearful player because he won’t take risks.
I’ve never heard this kind of thinking from a football player before, but it is the kind of thinking which results from believing the gospel. 
Jesus’ perfect atonement for our sins removes the fear of punishment. We can be lovingly disciplined, (fortunately) when we stray, but the fear of punishment is removed. Therefore we can “play” without fear of losing our status. We need not fear being benched or having to work our way back into God’s good graces. Instead of license (do whatever you want to do), this new freedom motivates us to joyfully follow the one who removed our punishment by taking it upon himself.

I can’t speak as a coach and motivator of football players, because I never was one, and probably will never be one. But as a motivator of people (not motivational speaker), I’ve seen the gospel we preach free people from passivity to actively honoring Christ and moving toward others. Free to fail, such folks can take risks, not live in guilt, and move forward with the smiles of their Heavenly Father.

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