They called him "Sweetness." His real name was Walter Payton and he will go down in football history as one of the finest running backs to ever play the game. The trophy given by the NFL to the player who has shown the most prolific humanitarianism during the season is named after him. Now, thanks to a book by Jeff Pearlman, his reputation as a stand up guy could forever be tarnished.
In Pearlman's book, he interviewed people who knew Payton best and found that the NFL's poster boy for good works was a closet drug addict and philanderer. His life after retirement made him even more of an enigma. Reading these things about Walter Payton was hard for me to do. To me he was a hero. Now he's just another guy who messed up.
However, I still like football.
Hypocrisy is a difficult trait to stomach in people we deal with regularly. It is even harder to take when we have idolized the person who is guilty of the hypocrisy, all the time believing that they were as they claimed...an all around good guy. This is why people outside the church find it difficult to deal with Christians who can at times be hypocritical.
If you are one of those people who have been disillusioned by the hypocritical acts of someone claiming to be a Christ follower, I want to challenge you to think of it this way: It's not about them, it's about Jesus.
Hebrews 12:2 instructs us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. He says this to remind us that the church is for seekers and disciples, but it is about (and belongs to) Jesus.
I haven't stopped enjoying football because a man who I admired turned out to be less than I imagined. Without the sport, Payton was just another guy. It's still about the sport, not the skill or character of the players.
I haven't stopped loving the church because people who have been my heroes in the faith have turned out to have clay feet. Without Jesus, we are all just another guy. It's still about him, not the imperfection of His followers.
If you are ever turned off to Jesus because one of His followers turns out to be a hypocrite, ask yourself this question: If a hypocrite is standing between you and Jesus, who is closer to Jesus? You, or the imperfect follower?