This piece was originally published at The Christian Post on September 27, 2012.
We all need NFL replacement refs to serve as scapegoats. Blame the sluggish economy, ongoing tensions in Afghanistan, and one’s own personal conflicts on the poor judgments of these refs. A recent humorous article that blames various crises and problems on the NFL replacement refs reminded me of how much we need to point the finger at others to maintain our own innocence. When I commented on this article with family members, one of my nieces said in response that her middle school class playfully chooses a classmate on a daily basis to be the person to blame for a day. That way, no one ever really needs to take the blame for long! Unlike my niece and her class’s playful scapegoat exercise, the rest of us are not always so playful when we are blaming various kinds of “replacement refs” in the game of life.
Why do we participate in the blame game? How long have we been doing this? Let’s answer the second question first—according to Genesis 3, ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden: When God called Adam out for his disobedience, Adam blamed Eve and then Eve blamed the serpent. While it’s not in the text, perhaps the serpent went on to kick the family dog just before God cursed the serpent by forcing it to crawl on its belly! (Genesis 3:14)
Now to the first question: Why do we do this? No doubt, there are several reasons. No one likes to be blamed for mistakes and misfortunes. It just doesn’t feel good. But there is more. Why doesn’t it feel good? Among other things, it is because we are often self-righteous. We think we should be allowed by God and everyone else to serve as judge, jury, and prosecuting attorney. After all, we think we could do a better job than the replacement refs and God. Sure, the real NFL refs would be better than their replacements, but would we be better replacement refs and divine judges?
We all need NFL replacement refs to judge. But what happens when we’re the ones who make the poor judgments? And what if we’re made the scapegoats for things we didn’t do? Can we really blame others for doing that to us, when we’ve been doing it all along, and not just with NFL games, but also with the game of life?