I've been thinking about this whole "king" thing since I wrote my last post. It's hard not to, with LeBron's name being in the paper and on TV and on the radio and...you get the picture. With the playoffs still underway, the local media is all abuzz about LeBron, and if he and the Cavs will be able to pull off another upset. It remains to be seen.
A few years ago, another NBA player made it very clear that he wasn't a role model. He said as much. His actions were not those of a role model, for sure. But as much as they don't want to be given that label, professional athletes have to realize that young kids do idolize them. They try to dribble and shoot a basketball like their favorite player. They try to swing a bat or throw a ball like a major league baseball player. They walk like them. They talk like them. When they're playing alone in the backyard or shooting hoops in their driveway, they visualize themselves as their idol. Hitting that last second shot to win the championship. Throwing that impossible touchdown to win the Super Bowl. It's what kids do!
In light of this, it troubles me that LeBron is given such role model status. He's a pretty decent guy, as NBA players go. He is known for giving great interviews, even when the game was lousy. He never tries to take all the credit for a big win. He's a team player. He comes across as humble and very nice. However, his personal life is not that of a role model. I won't go into details here. For the record, though, I wouldn't want my sons to fashion their lives after his model.
That's why it's so wonderful to have a King whose life we want to mirror. When I read the life of Christ in the Bible, I see a man who knew how to be tough, yet was gentle to the smallest of children. He didn't rush to judgment, and gave people mercy. He didn't look the other way when He saw wrong, though. Somehow, He knew the right balance of justice and grace. He spoke highly of those who deserved praise (i.e., the widow who gave her last two mites), yet warned His followers not to follow those whose lives didn't measure up (i.e., the Pharisees). ("Do as they say, but not as they do.") He honored the poor, and spoke of God's love for them. He used the miserly rich as a contrast to God's generous nature.
Of course, the greatest example He gave us is obvious: He gave His life for us. The perfect example of putting others first. The very image of God (Colossians 1:15), allowing Himself to be crucified, so that those He loved could be truly free.
LeBron may be a great man in many aspects. But I'd rather take my cues from the king of Kings, than "King James".
"By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him." (I John 3:16-19)