I don’t follow college hoops much until March Madness. So, I didn’t know a lot about CJ Leslie before the interview he had on TV yesterday. What he did on the court amazed me. Yeah, he led North Carolina State to a win over #1 Duke with his 25 points, but that wasn’t the best part of the story.
It was enough to cause me to extend my current blog series (I love to stay on schedule) because it relates to the theme so well.
Will Privette, a senior at NC State who is confined to a wheelchair, was so pumped by the win that he encouraged his friend to push him onto the court with the other fans who were mobbing the floor to celebrate. In the bustle, Privette was knocked to the floor and was in danger of being trampled. Some say he could have died in the frenzy if CJ Leslie hadn’t come to the rescue for the second time that evening.
You couldn’t have blamed Leslie if his mind was on other things causing him not to notice. But, he did. He pushed back the crowd and lifted Privette to safety.
Leslie is an African-American athlete who is destined to be drafted into the NBA. Privette is white and his physical condition mandates his dependence on a wheelchair. The contrast is great, just like the three men in the book of Philemon that I’ve been blogging about.
Paul’s point in his letter to Philemon is that in the church we must do our best to understand the different perspectives of others because we share the same Spirit. Division is easy for people, and that’s why so much of the New Testament is about how to stay united. That can’t happen if we don’t recognize the plights of those who share this awesome journey with us.
Why didn’t anybody else help Privette? Maybe they were too busy celebrating and couldn’t be bothered. Or, they may not have known his physical condition since he was on the floor and not in his wheelchair. It’s also possible that nobody else had the strength to lift him up or the authority to move the crowd back. However you cut it, the strongest in the crowd noticed the weakest and did something about it. It’s a sweet illustration of both aspects of 1st Corinthians 12:26. While one guy was sharing in the honor of another, the “another” recognized his suffering and did something about it.
Leslie was surprised at what happened when he lifted Privette above the crowd. He didn’t complain or take time to recover. Privette continued cheering! He continued honoring the one who had rescued him while his rescuer was still carrying him. And the crowd cheered even more loudly.
It’s the same with Christians. There’s something about being Christlike that strengthens bonds between his people.
That’s precisely what Paul was getting at in his tiny letter to Philemon.