This is not a sports website or a basketball website by any stretch of the imagination. What happens in the world of sports or the NBA is largely irrelevant to this website unless it has something to do with immoral business dealings by the league with authoritarian communists or when a basketball player asserts that there is vast racism in this country when there largely is none. Some topics relating to sports are relevant to this website, but many are not.
But it should come as no surprise to long-time readers of this website that I, personally, am a big basketball fan and have been for years. I stay in tune with many of the things happening in the NBA from trades, to free agent signings, to individual player stats to win columns, etc. Basketball, though not close to the level of politics and theology, is a big passion of mine. So hearing the news of the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest players to have ever set foot on the basketball court, has honestly both shocked me and left me in mourning, at least to some extent.
Of course, I never met the guy or knew him personally and he certainly never knew I existed, but that does not really matter. The whole basketball world, from the fans to the players to the coaches and those in the executive offices and lower on the corporate ladder, is in mourning over this extremely unexpected and horrific event.
The fact that it was not only him, but also his 13-year-old daughter and 7 other people apart from them (9 total, with another 13-year-old apart from Kobe’s daughter, at least according to TMZ) also perished in this incident makes it all the worse because of the potential of those lives. Kobe’s playing career ended in 2016, but he was not done with the game. Gianna, Kobe’s daughter, had dreams of continuing her father’s legacy and enter the WNBA, likely dominate in that league as her father did for so many years in the NBA.
All loss of life is tragic, particularly when it comes in this manner. No one in Kobe’s family could’ve possibly prepared, even a little, for last Sunday. But I hope that in this grief and time of mourning, the Bryant family, as well as the families of the people who likewise perished aboard that helicopter, come closer to God and that He would bring them closer to Him, so that they might seek His comfort and, if not quite yet saved, that they might be saved.
As far as Kobe and Gianna go, I would like to believe that they are playing for Heaven’s basketball team now. The reason I say this is because of the various sources saying that the guy, and his family, were/are all Catholic.
Now, if you are indeed a long-time reader of mine, you know my irks with the Catholic Church and the doctrines they teach. They emphasize a relationship with the Church as opposed to Christ and have many other doctrinal problems, let alone political and social problems that have plagued the Church for centuries (Dictatus Papae, anyone?). However, that does not mean that the entirety of the body of that church is cast off from God’s sight and presence. For all the problems within the Catholic Church (problems that are not exclusive to the Church), there are, indeed, some among the Church who are saved, provided they put their salvation on Christ and not the Church.
Kobe Bryant and his family, I believe, are among those who have been saved. Why do I say this? Well, while Kobe has been raised Catholic (which alone does not necessarily save someone), after the rape allegations were made against him, he sought the counsel of a priest who advised him to let God control that situation. Kobe said of that meeting with the priest that “that was the turning point”, supposedly in reference to him trusting his life to the Lord.
One could also assume that his faith had influence over his family as well, possibly giving Gianna, Kobe’s oldest daughter, the opportunity to trust the Lord with her life as well. Now, I will say that I do not know for certain whether this is the case, but for my own sake, without having substantial evidence to convince me in one way or another, I believe Gianna did also make it into Heaven alongside her father (and I hope whomever else in that crash that perished also received the Lord Jesus into their hearts and repented of their sins before this).
It is this faith that saves us and this faith that tells us the meaning of life. I’ve already mentioned this to some extent in a previous article relating to British youth being “the least happy generation”, but the answer to the meaning of life can be found in the shorter catechisms of the Westminster Confession of faith, particularly in the first one (though I will mention all the ones I consider to be relevant for this).
The first shorter catechism found in the Westminster Confession of Faith asks the question: “What is the chief end of man?” The answer to this question is: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”
Again, I’ve already mentioned this once, but to reiterate: this right here is the meaning of life. We are created in God’s image so that we may glorify and enjoy Him forever. This is how every Christian should try to live: doing everything for the glory of the Lord.
The seventh shorter catechism asks the question: “What are the decrees of God?” The answer reads: “The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.”
With this, we know that God is in control and that nothing is a surprise to Him. He already knew and foreordained everything had happens, knowing the day and the hour in which we all pass.
The 20th shorter catechism asks the question: “Did God leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery?” The answer reads: “God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.”
God, in all of His wonderful love and grace, has given to us a Savior and Redeemer so that we would not have to suffer His wrath and perish due to our sin.
The Lord has put purpose into our lives and that purpose is to glorify Him. This is not a purpose that is exclusive to those who believe (though belief in God is a prerequisite, otherwise one would not glorify a being that they do not believe exists) but a purpose given to each and every single one of us. We are to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
God also already knows whether or not this is something we will strive for and, not only knows it, but has preordained it. He has elected some of us to believe and be saved by the works of His Son Jesus at the cross.
And in all of His ever-lasting love for us, who do not deserve such love and grace, God has given us a path to salvation through His Son Jesus. And while the Westminster Confession of Faith is a Protestant document, many of the doctrines it teaches are fairly universal. God loves us. He has given us a purpose to glorify Him, doing everything in His name and for His glory, and ultimately, we shall enjoy Him forever. This is not merely a Protestant thing – it is a Christian thing.
This, I hope, is how Kobe lived his life and I hope he is, indeed, enjoying God forever, having been saved by the Lord Jesus.
I also hope this is how the other passengers lived their lives, or at least tried to, and can all now enjoy the Lord in Heaven.
“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
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