In 2007 when I was a freshmen at OU, I bought two student section tickets for the basketball game against Texas. I picked up my little brother to go with me. “We are going to see the next Michael Jordan play basketball, and we may never get this opportunity again!” We watched in awe during warm-ups as the star of Texas drained 30-footers like they were free throws. We appreciated his silky smooth drives as he effortlessly throttled our beloved Sooners. He was absolutely breathtaking to watch. Little did I know I would watch Kevin Durant play hundreds of basketball games in my lifetime FOR an NBA team in Oklahoma!
Oklahoma loves Kevin Durant. We should love Kevin Durant. He has done more for this state than Will Rogers and Toby Keith could ever dream. I have traveled all over the world, and anytime I tell people I am from Oklahoma City, the first thing they talk about is Kevin Durant. Not the Thunder, but KD. Not only did he wear a jersey that says “Oklahoma City” on the front, but he also spoke well of OKC. Durant gave $1 million to the disaster relief effort after the Moore tornadoes. He even showed up in person to assist with the clean-up. Kevin Durant was more than our best basketball player, he represented the best of the people in Oklahoma.
This is why we are all hurting today. Our beloved son, the patron saint of Oklahoma City, has taken his talents to the bay area. We feel betrayed by one of our own, especially my friend's Terry and Jessica Rimmer’s son, Myles, who became famous the past few days in this viral video.
— Terry Rimmer (@T_Rimm) July 4, 2016
We have doubted his competitiveness and loyalty. This is pretty easy to do considering that Facebook and Twitter give us all the ammo we need to fire back at him. We are insecure about whether or not OKC could be fully embraced by an elite player in the NBA. If Kevin Durant did not stay, what superstar ever will? A headline that caused a firestorm a few years back seems to fit. Kevin Durant is Mr. Unreliable.
There are many lessons we can learn from the Kevin Durant Independence Day in Oklahoma City. I think the biggest one is this:
PEOPLE WILL ALWAYS DISAPPOINT YOU.
Whether you realize it or not, you have been betrayed in far worse and far more personal ways than by a sports star leaving our city. You may have suffered injustices that most people do not know or understand. You may have been disappointed or let down. Not only that, you may have betrayed others yourself. You have been the source of pain for others. You have been offensive.
One of the reasons church can be so painful is because we often feel betrayed by the people we thought loved us. If you’ve been in church longer than 15 minutes, you have probably been disappointed by another somebody. If you’ve been a member more than a month, you probably have been disappointed by someone on our staff. If you’ve been attending for more than a year, you have probably disappointed our staff yourself! There is plenty of opportunity for feelings of betrayal, pain, and disappointment that the Enemy wants to use to kill our unity.
One of the reasons church can be so painful is because we often feel betrayed by the people we thought loved us.
Imagine the emotions Jesus felt when he was praying in the garden hours before the cross. Jesus asked his disciples to pray with him through the night as he prepared for the most important moment in the history of the universe. They fell asleep. Jesus asked the Father if it was possible for the cup of wrath to pass from him. God was silent. Jesus was even abandoned during the crucifixion by the men he had given everything to over the span of his ministry.
Yet, notice how Jesus embraces his disciples after the resurrection. Jesus does not use this opportunity to chastise them for their mistake. Jesus does not capitalize on the moment to teach them a lesson. Before his ascension into heaven, Jesus forgives them of their sin and restores their faith.
You and I are called to do the same with one another. Not by our own power, but by the power given to us by the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
Forgive the person at church who has gossiped about you, just as you need forgiveness for speaking ill of others. Forgive the staff who has disappointed you by dropping the ball in a ministry situation, just as you need forgiveness for not volunteering regularly. Staff, forgive the church member who has chewed you out for not living up to the standards set for you, just as you need forgiveness for failing to pray for them. We all have been disappointed by one another, and we all need forgiveness from one another and from Christ.
OKC put its hope in Kevin Durant. We hoped that Durant would show us the "unconditional love" that we gave to him. But guess what? Once he announced his departure to the West Coast, we turned on KD. We loved him as long as he stayed faithful to the OKC Thunder. That love is conditional. Kevin Durant disappointed us. I’m sure we disappointed him as well.
In the church, let us forgive those that have failed us as God in Christ has forgiven us. Kevin Durant is unreliable. We all are. Let embrace forgiveness. Not only for Kevin Durant, but let us also forgive one another in the church and carry on into deeper community with one another for the sake of the Gospel to rise in this city and in all nations.