Its Just Not Cricket

Or should that read “Its not just cricket”?

Over the last two days the scandal of ball-tampering has engulfed the Australian Cricket team.  I’m not going to comment on that, as my knowledge of cricket is about that of a 6 year old’s: fielding is boring and batting is fun.  Until yesterday I hadn’t even heard of Steve Smith, let alone heard that he was a cricketer, or the Australian Captain.

So my comments are actually aimed a bit more broadly than cricket.  I think what we are seeing here is just a reflection of what is happening in our whole society.  We think rules and standards are for suckers, and if you can get away with getting around them, its all okay.  The win is all that counts.

Every time I hear a politician on the radio not answering a question, bending or overstating things, I see ball tampering to win.

When I read opinion pieces in newspapers, or listen to commentators on the radio,  spinning things to get the outcome they want for their side, I see ball tampering.

To see news ‘articles’ on-line (including from reputable sources like the ABC) which overstate or inflate a story to act as click-bait to win market share, is to see ball tampering.

Listening to people who show up on my door asking for handouts while telling quite obvious lies because they think if they say what I want to hear they will get what they want, is listening to ball tampering.

Watching primary-school kids and adults alike say that something wasn’t their fault, that someone else is to blame, in order to come out on top, is watching ball tampering.

It seems like everything in our society is about the win, and that attitude is rewarded over and over.

The saddest thing about it is that the ‘wins’ are so small and petty.  Our goals are so limited.  Whether its a cricket game, twenty dollars for beer or drugs, a small tick in an opinion poll or getting your face on tv for 15 seconds in the evening, getting someone to click a link on a computer screen, or not getting told off for doing something wrong in the playground.  Do we aim for nothing bigger than these sorts of petty, selfish, insignificant things?

The alternative is to set your goals on something much bigger than yourself.  Which many people do.  But all too often that bigger thing, that ideal, is something which is hard enough to make you think that cheating or cutting corners could be worth it, because you might not be able to achieve it on your own.  The most generous interpretation of the Australian cricket team’s whole approach (because its obviously not just one individual involved in this) is that it is seeking the bigger goal of national sporting reputation, and the pressure to provide that is what lead them to cheat.

Instead, the Bible offers us an alternative.  Our highest goal, the ideal that we work towards, is loving and honouring God.  Not to achieve salvation, or earn a place in heaven.  But because Jesus has already done that for us, and given it to us as a gift.  This leaves us free to respond to God.  Without the pressure of needing to perform or earn or achieve to a level which might tempt us to consider ball tampering.

Jesus provides us with a security, a love, an acceptance, that nothing can take away.  All we need to do is gratefully accept what he has done, and respond by trusting and following him.

When you are secure, there is no motivation left to tamper with the ball, unless you are seeking some other, lesser, goal.  The pressure is off, and love and acceptance are there for the receiving.

This is the difference Jesus can make.

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