So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view…
2 Corinthians 5:16 (NIVUK)
I’m an English cricket fan and a Christian, so you may wonder why the sudden death of cricketer Shane Warne from a heart attack, at just 52, hit me so hard. He had repeatedly destroyed English hopes in the Ashes, and bowled the ‘ball of the twentieth century’ on 4 June 1993, in his first Ashes Test, signalling the revival of leg spin bowling. He was also a larger-than-life character who was renowned as much for his antics off the cricket field as on it. He smoked, drank excessively, had an unhealthy diet, and was a womaniser. Surely, he would have been the sort of person I would have no time for: the nemesis of English cricket, with what most people would have regarded as unchristian behaviour to boot.
But, even as an English cricket fan, I must admit that this Australian was undoubtedly one of the greatest players to grace a cricket field, and as a Christian I know that despite Warne’s moral failings he was loved by God and included in Christ’s forgiveness of all humanity at the cross, whether he realised it, or not.
Thankfully, God doesn’t love human beings based on how great they are, or on how far they have fallen, and neither should we. He loves all humanity made in his image, forgiving all our sins, small and great, and reconciling the world to himself through Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:18).
This provides great hope in the sadness of death. Shane Warne’s family may have lost a loved one, the cricketing world may have lost a legend, and Australia may have lost a sporting hero, but he is not lost to God.
Death will not hold sway. The final ball has not been bowled, the over is not over, the great umpire, Jesus, will have the final say, and his decision is: forgiven, accepted, and included.
Loving Father, thank you that you love all human beings and that there is nothing we can do that makes you love us more, or love us less. In Jesus’s name, we pray, Amen.