JH – A Beard, A Tweet & A Paradigm Shift

I don’t know what it is. It can’t be the move to Houston. The ink off that trade feels like it’s not dry yet. But somehow…
I’ve been introduced to a completely different James Harden.


I’ll admit. Something about him always rubbed me the wrong way. I love the iconic “Sixth Man”… he won the award for being the BEST “Sixth Man” in the NBA. Still, there was just something I couldn’t put my finger on. Was it arrogance? I mean, wasn’t he the one who said he would not trim his beard because his fans would get upset. Really? They’re that attached to your facial hair? I get it. Branding 101. Everyone wants to brand themselves. Being too dramatic on the court? Let’s be honest… some of these guys look like they want Emmy’s as much as rings. Looking like paid actors with the way they try to draw fouls against opponents by their overtly flailing bodies.


Whatever it was, I didn’t want to root for OKC in the Finals because of Harden. To be fair, my distaste was equally shared for Westbrook. So, Harden AND Westbrook made me not want to root for OKC. And maybe my sense of pain for Seattle fans…


But… I like Kevin Durant. And I love Derek Fisher. I also thought the irony of Fisher getting a 6th ring before Kobe would have been

priceless. Hilarious and PRICELESS. Still, that meant Harden and Westbrook getting rings too.


Now, Harden has been with the Houston Rockets for a second… & all of the sudden I’m annoyed. Sure. Go join Jeremy Lin. Now, Linsanity will have to ‘Fear the Beard’ or whatever. How can I root for Houston now??


Then, something happened. People started re-tweeting Harden all over my timeline:

“I just want to thank God for every thing he has done in my life. I really am a believer!!!!!!!!!!!!”



“All Glory to the man above.”

“God is Good, God is Great. #Humble

“Dear God, Thank You”


Of course, I take notice. It’s hard NOT to. This is a side of James Harden I had never seen. Never known. He hasn’t been with Houston long enough to find Jesus because of Jeremy Lin. That woulda been cool… but, whoever this Harden is, no one had ever re-tweeted him before. Not the people in my Twitter feed. So, where was this coming from??


Would I suddenly become a Harden fan? Cheer for Houston more? After all, he is being unashamed about his faith. I love that! I love that Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin do it. I even love Brandon Marshall causing a debate on whether or not his spiritual conversion is genuine. Ultimately, I love anything that gives God the glory on a major stage like that.


But then I remember hearing this quote:

The complacency of Christians is the scandal of Christianity.” – A.W. Tozer


It doesn’t sit right. But we do it all the time! We dislike someone for petty reasons up to a spectrum of fully substantiated facts about them. Sometimes, we hold onto that grudge for years… decades, even. Still, in a moments notice, we change our tune because of a new discovery. We’re complacent.


I’m not talking about people in general either. I’m speaking of good Christian types. We don’t hate, because that’s NOT what Jesus would do. But we judge… disapprove… dislike… judge… all for various valid or invalid reasons. They do something, anything that’s not Bible. So, we scowl. And then we judge some more. You know what I’m talking about… just think back to the last awards show you watched. With the rappers who sing about nothing “Christian” in their songs and then get up and thank God. Most believers, if we’re being honest, react. It’s awkward. You sing about this… but are thanking God? But, even when a Christian rapper breaks onto the scene at the BET Hip Hop Awards, like Lecrae, some believers turned on him for even being a part of that scene. God forbid he get to rep Jesus in his cypher!


Then the flip switches. They actually do something we like! Justin Bieber talks about Jesus, not just a generic God. They’ve got our (momentary) allegiance… till the next screw up we disapprove of. It’s reasons like this books like When Bad Christians Happen to Good People exist! (Go to Amazon if you don’t believe me. I’ll wait……)


Why do we change our tune, though!?


As I don’t personally know Mr. Harden, I cannot say if the arrogance, acting or whatever that thing was that I disliked, is gone. And I cannot know how long his faith has been a part of his life. It may have very well been there, when I was consciously not cheering for him, all along.


All I can say is it breaks my heart, and undoubtedly it breaks God’s heart, to think we flip so easily. That those of us, who know Love, treat others the way we do. Scandal. We know Grace… yet we fail to show it to others. SCANDAL. We seek comfort. We’re lazy. We want it easy. Yet our very indifference to God’s Word is shown in how we treat others. We’re complacent! We judge them based on frivolous things. Our judgment… hatred… disapproval… is the scandal of our faith. Not where we stand on politics and propositions.


People will rub us the wrong way. That’s life. But, you don’t have to like someone to love them. Just like you may fight with your spouse or parent or child… without losing your love for them. Regardless of what others do, however, we are accountable for our reactions… whether verbal, physical or internal.


At the same time, we who know Love need to be careful. We need to seek consistency in our character. We cannot teeter in the middle; rooting for someone only when they meet our standard of living. Then, out of the other side of our mouth, rooting against them once they’ve messed up that standard to which we think they should reach.


I’m humbled. Not just that a tweet could make me re-adjust my viewpoint on someone… but that, in light of someone’s faith, I could be so quick to want to change my opinion. I should love… root… pull for… someone REGARDLESS of their faith. After all, there’s plenty of athletes I probably cheer for who don’t share my faith. Are people with faith going to have home court advantage, just like our favorite team does? Probably. But, staying in a church bubble doesn’t help anyone outside that bubble; just like rooting for others who think/say/act like you want or expect them to doesn’t help anyone. How can we share God’s love with the world if we hoard it for ourselves and other believers??


We need to love first, then see behavior… not see behavior, then decide whether or not to love.

Playing catch up like that causes everyone to lose.

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