"I knew even then God had bigger plans for [Johnny], but I never dreamed it would be this. His ways are way higher than my little mind thinks."-- Michelle Manziel (mother)"Thank you, Jesus. We're very blessed."-- Paul Manziel (father)
It's quite obvious to anyone paying attention that Johnny Manziel's off the field game, and his on the field game too, needs some work. As he travels toward sanctification and possible football stardom on his unique life journey, we as Christians need to remember the words of our Savior, 'let he who is without sin cast the first stone'(John 8:7).
The often ill-aligned young man, who is probably the most controversial rookie since golden boy Tim Tebow, is an easy target for everyone, not just his fellow professors of faith, but we as Christians are called to take a different approach to the misguided.
We should pray for him, and lift him up instead of berating him and tearing him down.
Manziel, love him or hate him, is one of God's children and should be respected accordingly.
It seems Manziel himself forgets he is a child of the Creator, as we all do from time to time, so we should try and encourage him to remember who he is in the sight of God. It's important for us not to forget that he is young, and that if we can get past our emotions and all the hype, we can see many likenesses he shares with the Almighty.
For instance, Johnny Football is not normal. He is an alien among the common on the field (John 17:16). Most of his scouting reports call him, unique or special. He is in the world, but seems not to be of the world in a lot of ways. On the field he zigs when others might have zagged, he runs when others might have passed, he dashes when others might have dropped. By most coaches accounts, especially in the NFL, his game is not one that will translate well to success. But, ask anyone who has seen him play, he has the amazing potential to rise up and get it done in strange and exciting ways.
Also, he is small for his position, and we know how God likes to use the little ones to bring down the big and powerful (1 Samuel 17). We should want to see that from our fellow believers, and praise the Lord for the hope and encouragement it brings to all of us. Manziel is special and set apart on the field; it's time we start encouraging him to grow and develop into the new creation God want's him to become off the field, as well.
Obviously Manziel's off the field behavior can be very much in the world sometimes, so we should pray for him, that he could be just as unique off the field as he is on. We should ask that he could be brought closer to God through the ordeals he faces, and he would be filled with a want to glorify the Creator as much as he seemingly wants to glorify the creation sometimes. The prayers of the righteous availeth much (James 5:16), so if you are feeling pretty good about your walk with Christ, send one up for Johnny Football from time to time.
Manziel is not one to back down from a challenge on the field, so we should all pray that he could stand strong in his faith when one of life's challenges comes at him and the secular world is pulling him into weakness off the field. He has shown such confidence on the field before, playing without a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), and we should also pray that he realizes he was given that spirit from the Most High, and that it can translate to his life off the field, too.
Sometimes our greatest ministry calling can come from our biggest struggle, and although Manziel has had this worldly 'swagger' in the past, if you watch closely, you can see how some of the hype and criticism is starting to get to him. It's time we as believers intercede with prayer that he might know his strength is truly found in Christ, and that he could be a powerful witness and have the complete game God has in store for him.
Follow Don Pittman of twitter @DonaldPittman.