Alex Rodriguez, or famously known as A-Rod, has joined the throng of other athletes who have tarnished the integrity and ethics of the competitive arena through his recent admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs while playing shortstop for the Texas Rangers during the 2001-03 seasons. During that 3-year span A-Rod lead MLB with 395 RBI’s and was in the first 3 years of a whopping 10-year, $252 million dollar contract. By Rodriguez’s own admission, he wasn’t even certain what kind of drugs he was injecting into his body, which is a staggering statement of the blindness of his folly, considering he was jeopardizing the health very body that had made him a star.

The question that everyone is asking is “why”? Would would a man who possesses as much natural athletic ability on the baseball diamond as any player to ever play the game cheat in order to gain a competitive edge over players he was naturally better than anyway? The percentage of players in the game whose talented rivaled A-Rod’s at the time was negligible, and one could argue that there was no better player in the game period.

I think the reason is simple, and Rodriguez clarifies his reasons in his recent interview with Peter Gammons of ESPN:

When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had the weight of the world on me, and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day.

Back then, it was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive. And I wanted to prove to everyone that, you know, I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time. And I did take a banned substance. You know, for that I am very sorry and deeply regretful.

I don’t think Alex Rodriguez cheated because he was young, stupid and naive, or because the baseball culture of the day made cheating acceptable. Only a simple-minded man would believe A-Rod’s excuses for embracing the dark side of competitive sports. A-Rod cheated because he wanted to be seen as “worth” the ridiculous some of money the Rangers threw at him. He cheated because he feared not measuring up to the contract he was given in the eyes of his fans, his owner Tom Hicks, his teammates and competitors. He cheated because he feared man. He, like most of us, wanted to be accepted, liked, validated, esteemed and affirmed. He didn’t want to risk being misunderstood or being exposed as someone not worth the contract he was given. And less face it. He has proven that he wasn’t worth the richest contract in sports history. The truth is that no one player is worth that sum of money for what the can produce in the sports arena.

Before you judge A-Rod too harshly, realize that most of us make the same kind of compromises everyday for the same reason. You may not be injecting yourself with a banned substance to gain a competitive edge, but you are probably cutting corners in other ways in order to seek and savor the approval of man more than seeking acceptance by God through the cross of Christ. This is revealed by our lack of courage to do the hard and necessary things in life. It reveals itself in our compromises in our relationships to save face or embrace the path of least resistance. Our fear of man rears its ugly head constantly in our lives.

The cross is a paradox in that it shows us that our ambitions to make a name for ourselves won’t impress God. The cross reveals that we aren’t what we think we are. Our hearts a deceptively wicked and persuade us that we are better, more stable, and more likeable than we, in fact, really are. The cross, on one level, condemns our worth.Like A-Rod’s actions have now revealed how much he wasn’t worth the contract given to him as his reputation as one of the greatest players to play the game of baseball is now tarnished forever because he cheated, the cross reveals that we are not worthy of God’s salvation.

But the cross, on another level, does reveal our worth -to God. But our worth is measured by our righteousness, but rather, it is measured by His. The cross reveals the depths of God’s love for sinners. The cross reveals God’s hatred for the fear of man as He poured out the wrath of God for our sins upon His Son Jesus, the Lamb of God, slain before the foundation of the world.

Jesus said, “Do not fear man who can only kill the body. But fear God who can both kill the body and cast the soul into hell.” Here’s trusting that A-Rod will soon discover that it doesn’t matter whether or not he is accepted by men. It ultimately only matters that he is accepted by God. And that is a lesson that we all need to learn as we think about our means of acceptance by God through the cross of Christ.

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