On Sunday, January 26th, fog hung in the air as Kobe Bryant and eight others boarded a helicopter headed for a youth basketball game. The nine passengers would share the same fatal outcome as weather conditions contributed to the helicopter’s crash.
This NBA legend known for a laundry list of accolades including 5 NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers died at the age of 41. Bryant’s success made him a globally known star. When news broke of Kobe’s unexpected death it triggered immediate mourning and shock throughout the sports community.
This couldn’t be happening…yesterday Kobe congenially praised LeBron James for leap frogging into 3rd place on the NBA’s career scoring leaders, dropping Bryant to 4th place.
Kobe Bryant is dead. This is not a hoax or a sick joke.
With this question Christians have an opportunity to share Biblical wisdom and hope.
A Short Life that God Controls
Scripture has much to say about our momentary existence.
James 4:13-15 (ESV)
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
This truth is disarming in a culture that tells us to amass riches and success. According to the world’s measures of success Kobe thrived exceedingly. In a moment that was all violently ripped away from him.
Jesus tells a parable about the sobering reality that our lives can end at any moment.
Luke 12:16-21 (ESV)
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Unexpected death reminds us that this life is temporary and we are all going to die regardless of our posts in life. NBA legend. Helicopter pilot. It makes no difference; death awaits us all.
Hebrews 9:27 (ESV)
Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment
What really terrifies people is the thought of judgement. Many shrug it off or make up their own standards for getting into their version of heaven.
False Hope or the Hope of Christ
It’s not surprising that a secular sports media sought comfort in praising Kobe’s accomplishments or humanitarian efforts off the court. The grief and loss long for a kind sentiment to chase the bitterness of death, but hope isn’t found in our works.
Let’s go back to Hebrews and put it all together.
Hebrews 9:27-28 (ESV)
Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Praise God! We are rescued by the work of Jesus, taking our place of punishment on the cross. We are saved by faith in Christ. This is the message a grieving community needs to hear.
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