Richard Nixon. Bill Clinton. Tiger Woods. Marion Jones. Ted Haggard. Jimmy Swaggert. Just a few of the many high-profile Americans who have been caught lying, cheating, stealing, or some combination of the three. Today, we can add Lance Armstrong to that list.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France and then lying about it for years to his supporters and his sponsors. He even lied under oath at least a handful of times.
Some of us are angry, some of us are ambivalent, and many of us are somewhere in-between about the news...but watching television, reading blogs, and following social media, it seems like we're all trying to answer one simple question: Is Lance Armstrong a good person who did some bad stuff, or is Lance Armstrong a bad person who has done some good stuff?
He lied. He cheated. And (if you ask his former sponsors) he stole. He duped millions of people into believing a story that wasn't true...and made millions on the lie. But Armstrong also beat cancer and raised tens of millions of dollars for cancer research. For fifteen years he has been an inspiring figure for many young cancer patients - not because he won anything, but simply because he survived.
Deep down, is Lance a "good" person? Honestly, I don't know the answer to my own question. What I do know is that God doesn't look at Lance Armstrong in those terms. That's a human question, not a heavenly one. God isn't trying to figure out whether Lance is good gone bad or bad gone good. And, the great news is God isn't trying to figure that out about you or me either.
It's just a guess, but I would imagine you have asked the same question of yourself. Am I a good person who has made some bad mistakes...or am I a bad person who has done some good in life? I ask myself that question all the time. At the core, is there goodness in me...or not? Am I worthy of grace of forgiveness of love...or not?
Romans 3:23-24 uses some pretty inclusive language when it comes to which of us has made mistakes and which of us are qualified to be forgiven. It says, "For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and ALL are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
Is Lance Armstrong good or bad? Are you? Am I? The answer is, it doesn't matter. Jesus died for all of us. Liars, cheaters, stealers, and all.