Do you know when you hear the name of an offensive lineman? In football, one will generally hear the name of an offensive lineman if (a) a block is missed or (b) the blocker is penalized or (c) the lineman is injured. Do you know when you hear the name of the quarterback or a running back in football? All the time. Announcers will marvel at the agility or speed of a running back. Quarterbacks will be lauded for touchdowns thrown or leadership of the team. But guess who allows halfbacks to run or quarterbacks to throw? You guessed it: the linemen. So why don’t offensive linemen in football get much recognition from TV analysts during the game? Because linemen do the inglorious hard work, play-in, play-out, getting the job done.
Perhaps I feel bad for offensive linemen because that’s the position I once played. But the connection is made even more obvious when I think about what is and is not mentioned about Christianity. Consider the following examples. TIME magazine gives a sympathetic cover story entitled, “What if there is no hell?” based on Rob Bell’s book. Chris Matthews invited four non-theologian-journalists to debate the existence of hell during the week of Palm Sunday. Where controversy or disagreement exists in The Church, TIME and CNN are there. Are priests accused of abuse? The New York Times has front page headlines. Coptic Christians fear for their lives because of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? The story is buried.
Here are stories you won’t hear through major media outlets. Christian doctors give of their time and treasure to meet the needs of the poor around the world. Christian construction workers build new school buildings in Haiti. Christians in The Water Project dig wells for parched communities in Uganda. Christian agriculturists help landowners to grow crops in Romania. Christian lawyers from the International Justice Mission defend slave-trade-prostitutes against human traffickers in the Philippines. And Christian shelters like Wheeler Mission feed and clothe the homeless in my own city of Indianapolis.
The next time a news story about one episode of bad behavior by a pastor or the latest Church dispute becomes front page headlines, remember the linemen. When I watch football on Sunday afternoons, my eyes always follow the linemen. You want to follow the play? Follow the linemen. Linemen get the job done with little fanfare but with exceptional ability. Like the front line on a football team, Christians and Christian agencies work tirelessly on behalf of the poor and defenseless. I’m tired of only hearing bad news for and about Christians. It’s time we think about all the good news Christians have been providing others for 2000 years.
For Moody Radio, this is Dr. Mark Eckel, personally seeking truth wherever it’s found.
Mark’s ire is raised by this issue. As his students from Crossroads Bible College say, “‘nough said.” This essay will air during the summer of 2011 on Moody Radio.