Be Like Mike—Rom.10:1-3
An advertiser made the slogan “Be like Mike” famous and sold a lot of product off the endorsements of Michael Jordan. All kids and most adults would love to have the talent and competitive drive of Michael Jordan, but the headlines about 8 years ago were about a different Mike—Michael Vick, at the time the quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. He also was a famous fabulous athlete with massive endorsements and pro football contracts running in the many millions, but he is now infamous for pleading guilty to a felony involving dog fighting.
The irony to this story is that in his own way he was trying to do good deeds. He was actually trying to help some friends of his who needed employment so he employed them and put up the money for their dog fighting business. He actually thought he was doing a good deed. Of course it escaped his notice that it was illegal and inhumane. He did the wrong thing for the right reasons. This is just another really interesting study in human nature because right now Vick is sitting around with a very perplexed look on his face like, “What the heck happened? I was helping these deadbeats make some money, Lord knows I didn’t need the money—it was for them. Now they have turned on me and made a deal with the Law to testify against me. It just goes to show that the old proverb may be true, “It is hard to remember when you are up to your butt in alligators that your original intention was to drain the swamp.”
When I was in the Seminary, one particularly hard working and brilliant student, read like 10 books on a certain assignment, did lengthy research, and after hundreds of hours of work wrote an excellent paper. It was returned by the Professor with an interesting notation—Great research, great piece of work, good job, but wrong assignment, GRADE—F. Fortunately he let me rewrite it according to the right assignment. It is possible to do good work, mean well, have good intentions but still do the wrong thing. In this sense the human race has achieved their motto of “Be Like Mike”, Mike Vick that is. What I mean is the majority of human beings want to do the right thing, be good people, get recognition, and rewards from both God and man. People develop their own belief systems, their philosophy, or a religion that appeals to them in order to accomplish this and feel good about themselves. Since this sounds like a good thing, what is the problem?
The problem is that it does not matter what your intentions were or how hard you worked, or what great accomplishments you seemingly made if you do the WRONG ASSIGNMENT. It does not matter that you helped your friends and set them up in business out of the goodness of your heart if that business is engaged in illegal activities—sorry Mike but you deserved to go to jail.
Paul addressed a similar problem in Romans 10 with his fellow countrymen. Paul had endeavored to share the truth of the Word of God with them for years. In every new town he entered on his missionary journeys, Paul would go first to the local synagogue to tell everyone that all the Old Testament passages they were so familiar with concerning the Messiah had been fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Paul would return every Sabbath to continue reasoning with them until they would literally run him out, then he would go to the rest of the Gentiles in the town to share the Gospel and plant churches. Why did the vast majority of his countrymen reject the Gospel? Was it because they were worse than others, more evil, or less interested? NO, quite the contrary, by human standards they were good moral religious people who worked very hard.
Read Romans 10:1-3 and you will see the problem. They had the wrong assignment.
Paul said, “My hearts desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with the truth. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” You may notice in your translation that instead of truth it says knowledge. The Greek word for knowledge is gnosis, but the actual word here is epignosis or full and complete knowledge, which means the absolute truth instead of what they wanted it to be. Notice that they had a zeal for God, they were trying to please God in their own way. This is why Paul said they were “seeking to establish their own” righteousness, trying to be good enough according to their way. Because they were seeking God in the wrong way, they were like that hapless theologian who did the wrong assignment—F.
What is “God’s righteousness” that they must know and believe? What is the true righteousness that leads to salvation? Paul explained it well in Phil.3:9, “not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith”. Therefore, Paul is contrasting the typical search for righteousness by people who are sincere and hard working –but in their own way and not according to God’s prescribed way–with the true righteousness which is from God through faith in Christ.
In this age of relative righteousness many call postmodernism, everybody thinks they can “Be like Mike”, Vick that is, and make their own rules, come up with their own truth, do their own thing—but the Bible makes it very clear that there is one absolute truth as far as God is concerned. God has provided one way in which we can approach Him, one way that we can be reconciled to him, and only one way that we can stand justified before Him—and that way is GOD’S WAY. There is only one source to know God’s way and that is God’s revealed truth. None of us can know anything about God unless He reveals it to us, and that is the reason why the Word of God is so important to us!