By Dr. Kevin Thomas —
I couldn’t believe what my young eyes were seeing! The image didn’t make sense to my childhood mind! But, there it was on the television news, Coach Bryant and Shug Jordan in a boat on a lake fishing together-like friends! The news story left me confused. In my elementary school world, people fought over football. Friendships lived and died by their allegiance to one team or another. To us preteens, football was more than sport. It was warfare, and I couldn’t imagine why “my” coach was fraternizing with the “enemy.” I asked my dad about it. It required a good deal of effort for him to convince me that the two coaches could be friends in spite of their opposition to one another on the field. It was an important lesson to learn!
That same lesson is even more important in the sharply divided world of the 21st century. Increasingly, we tend to villainize those with whom we disagree. People with other opinions become “bad” people. They become enemies to be attacked, first with words, sadly, later with violence. Too often when I turn on the news, I get the sense that hatred is winning.
Coach Bryant and Coach Jordan knew there was more to life than football, and they formed a friendship that was even stronger than our favorite college sport. I’m praying for a Godly perspective in our current situation. I’m praying that we can all remember that God created and treasures all those people on the “other” side. God surely blesses us, but God also blesses our enemies because, despite our differences, we all belong to God. Our world seems perpetually on the brink of violence. It’s unlikely that everyone will ever completely agree. But, maybe we can put down our swords, get into the boat, pick up a fishing rod and learn to love our enemies-just like Jesus did.