Daily Devotional for Thursday July 26, 2007

Michael Vick and Dog Fighting

(Mark 12:28-31)

Michael Vick and dog fighting. Atlanta Falcon quarterback and one of the NFL's most visible and marketed players, Michael Vick, was indicted in Federal Court last week for operating and participating in a large dog fighting operation. Dog fighting is illegal in all 50 states. Because the dogs were transported across state lines it is a Federal matter, and if convicted Vick is looking at up to 6 years in Federal prison plus $250,000 in fines. It is very likely that Vick will never play football in the NFL again, and based on my personal knowledge of how the Federal Government operates, it is almost a guarantee that he will end up spending time in prison. The Feds will not indict someone unless they have a very solid case which is why they have a 95%+ conviction rate.

Dog fighting is nothing new and certainly this is not something isolated and unique to Vick and his group. Fighting dogs for sport is traced back to 43 A.D. and is an underground world that exists not only all across this country, but is very prevalent and popular in many Latin American, European, and Asian countries as well. Once again, we are confronted with the reality that people derive entertainment and enjoyment out of seeing blood and death. Man seems to have this insatiable appetite for violence, for brutality. We have this carnal urge to see pain. It really does say much about the condition of our heart when we find pleasure in watching animals fighting to their death.

As outraged as people are over the barbaric and inhumane treatment of these dogs by Vick and others who are part of the world of dog fighting, I wonder if those same people are as outraged over the brutal sports theater known as professional wrestling, or the sport of boxing, or the fast growing and highly popular ultimate fighting events that aren't any different from what people used to pack the Roman Coliseum to watch except for the "death shot" at the end. There is absolutely no justification for the way these animals were treated, but I wonder why people are not equally as incensed over the brutal forms of "sport" involving humans that we entertain ourselves with.

You see, when people are living without Christ in their heart and life, they have the mind of the world. They lust after the carnal pleasures of this life. They are guided by their flesh. When a person gets saved, they take on the mind of Christ. They desire heavenly things. They are being guided by the Holy Spirit that resides in each Believer. It is the carnal mind that delights in brutality and death. The regenerated mind seeks peace and life. You have to have a hard heart, a seared conscience, to enjoy pain and torture and watching someone, even an animal, suffer. A heart of flesh cries out when someone is in pain, is being tortured, is suffering.

This ultimately comes back to the fact we have the better percentage of 2 full generations who are lost, without Christ in their life, and are being guided by the spirit of this world and not the Spirit of the living God! Look at the brutality we see daily in the news. One story after another of man's inhumanity to man. Children being abused and murdered. People preying on other people and purposely destroying their lives. Popular TV programs like "Jackass" that revel in people getting hurt. A whole new genre of Internet videos showing young men and young women fighting. A popular video series called, "Bum Fights" where homeless people, people who are struggling just to get through the day, are exploited and forced to fight each other. There is little that shocks us any longer since we have become desensitized to how cruel people are. It is a sad commentary of who we are as a people.

I love you and care about you so much. It is in this darkness that we are living in that the light of Christ can coming shining through. In the midst of our utter depravity, as we are forced to see how barbaric we really are, now more than ever we need to turn to the only true hope there is, faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus is the only answer, since it is only Jesus who can take our hearts of stone and turn them into hearts of flesh. It is only Jesus who can help us to be transformed from people who take pleasure in watching other people in pain, to people who reach out to help and comfort other people in pain. Only the Lord can give you a heart that cares about others more than you care about yourself.

Be praying for Michael Vick. Here is a young man who was being paid over $120 million to play football. He had everything the world could possible offer to a person. However, he clearly lacked the most important things you need to live a victorious life. You can't be involved in such a brutal world like the world of dog fighting unless you have no heart. Forgetting for a moment that dog fighting is illegal, even if they are just animals, someone who has the Lord in their life simply can't take any pleasure or enjoyment in seeing God's creatures forced to brutally fight each other to the death. So pray that through this experience, Vick will really open his heart to the Lord and make a true commitment of his life to Christ.

While this story gained so much national attention because of the involvement of a high profile NFL superstar, the reality is there is an underground world that exists where fighting animals is big business. Just like sports where men fight other men is a big business. These businesses exist because there is a demand out there. It is a demand for blood, guts, and death. We are no different than those who packed the Roman Coliseum to watch the gladiator fights, to watch humans being fed to lions. We lambaste those people for their barbaric tastes, but in reality we are no different. Now more than ever we need to turn back to God and faith in Jesus Christ.

I will be praying for you today. Do you watch things like boxing, wrestling, ultimate fighting? If you do, why? Do you watch other programs that involve people being humiliated, hurt, ridiculed, minimized? Do you find it entertaining to see people abused? TV once again has played a big role in shaping our culture. Today's programming doesn't lift people up, it puts them down. It is not about encouraging people, it is about debasing them. Oprah and her puppet Dr. Phil, Springer, Montel, Tyra, the plethora of judge shows, all share the element of abusing people to generate ratings. Why? They know it works. They know people love to watch other people's pain.

Very few reading this today would ever go to or be part of a dog fight. However, most reading this today will watch TV programs where people are humiliated, shamed, and abused in the name of entertainment. I submit to you today that both are equally as wrong. We have become a very cold and heartless people. That is why now more than ever we need to change the course, change the direction, and that can only be done as people are transformed by the power of God from having hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. What Michael Vick is alleged to have done to dogs is disgusting and indefensible. I submit to you today that most people do things just as disgusting and indefensible to other people. Our lust for violence, brutality, blood and death, our hearts that have been hardened to the pain of others, that is the real story.