Keep Mark Richt


I’ve seen the posts. In fact I would say that I scroll past at least one of these every other day. We forget things fairly quickly but if we look back through our timelines we can find them soon enough. If not on our walls then we have liked them and commented on them when our friends have posted them.

Meme 1: The little boy is asking why God didn’t stop the shooting at the school and his friend replies that God isn’t allowed at the school. The theology is skewed, but we like it because it points blame at those who would prohibit God being taught as an authority in our schools.

Meme 2: This is usually two pictures with one being of a school and the other being of a jail or an inmate. The emphasis is on the fact that the Bible and prayer is allowed in prison and if it were allowed in the school this inmate may not find himself in that position. Once again the theology is a little dicey but it is more substantive than the previous meme. We like it. Once again it sticks it to “the man.”

There are certainly many more of these types of messages but I believe they convey enough information for us to draw a conclusion; many would like public prayer, and the Bible to be taught as fact in our public school systems.

This poses an interesting dilemma for some of us in the great state of Georgia. The highest paid employee in our state education system is a professing believer. This individual prays publicly, at times in the capacity of a state employee, but specifically they are known in their personal life as being someone who directly trusts God to intervene and act in their life. Personally I don’t know if this individual carries a Bible in their state-funded office but I am aware of their use of Scripture as many who interview this person write down and quote the Scriptures back for their public audience.

We have prayer in our schools! The Bible is being taught at the highest level of our education system and the State of Georgia is complicit in this teaching! The most recognizable, most quoted, and most sought after employee of the great State of Georgia; the individual who has access to the national media at any moment; the individual who can commandeer a plane to make a trip to speak to a group of business leaders or students whenever they are able; the individual who is looked at by his peers and coworkers as leading an exemplary life that challenges others to evaluate their own relationship with Christ, and we want to fire him because he can’t beat Florida.

I believe there are three possibilities here; SEC and National Championships are more important than having a committed believer in a place of power and prestige with a seeming inability to “win the big one”, we are confused as to what “ministry” really is, or we don’t know or have a firm understanding of the life changing reality of speaking to the very God of Heaven and Earth and opening Scripture and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak His truth to our lives.

I’m sure that everyone would argue that the first possibility doesn’t even belong in the discussion but that we just want a coach who is able to do their job. Check the resumes folks, and I would love a list of 10, qualified, ethical individuals that you would consider over Mark Richt. Could you come up with such a list? Sure, but unless you are just a complete college football addict I would imagine that Google would have to be your friend for a few moments. We love our football folks, we really, really, love our football.

The second possibility is there because I have heard professing believers say that Mark Richt should quit coaching and go “be a missionary or something.” When given that statement a few months ago Richt made a clear statement that he considered what he was doing a mission field. Do we? I don’t know if you have had a chance to read anything that Benjamin Watson has written over the last year or so, but take a few moments and read some of his responses to issues facing our nation and then remind yourself that Mark Richt was his college coach. I am a missionary. Yes, I am a paid staff member of a church but long before that I was called to be a missionary, and so were you. Believers discuss their favorite preachers and bloggers while unbelievers wonder at the kindness of the stranger in their lane and the grace of a coworker in a difficult situation. Let’s make one thing clear; Mark Richt is a missionary right now.

The third possibility should challenge all of us in our personal spiritual lives. I was 19 years old when I began my private war against what I refer to now as generational warfare. You know, where the old blame the young and the young mock the old, that kind of warfare. A girl a few years younger than me was checking out of a Winn Dixie with a Coke in her hand at 7:30 in the morning. She was in an obvious hurry as she was headed to school. As she walked out the door, the cashier, a woman in her 40’s made a snide remark about a generation that was drinking Coca Cola for their breakfast. As I paid for my purchase I made eye contact with the aforementioned cashier and reminded her that it was her generation that was raising this “bad” generation. I say that because whether that girl drank Coke or coffee she was still using caffeine and sugar to jump start her day. We say we want prayer in our schools but prayer is not some public performance that acknowledges God but it is the outpouring of a trust in Him and a desire to see Him intervene in our lives. Prayer made Jesus feel as if was about to die as He entrusted himself to what lay ahead. Prayer led the Apostle Paul to break out in song after being beaten and chained to a wall. Prayer empowered Stephen to ask God to show mercy on those who were in the process of killing him. And we can most certainly study the Bible as a textbook but it is so much more than that. The truth of God’s Word written in our hearts, lighting our path, and illuminating truth to others is greater than we can ever begin to imagine. I would be appreciative if my child’s teacher opened their class each day with public prayer, but I am moved to tears when I consider the teachers that my children have had and continue to have: men and women who love God, men and women who live lives of compassion and grace with their students and pour their lives into them knowing and believer that the God of miracles is still at work. There is prayer in our schools for I have seen it in the lives of the teachers who work in our public school system. The Bible is being taught in the lives of those who allow God’s Spirit to work and teach through them daily.

Now I truly must say that I hope I haven’t upset anyone too much. I’m not questioning your spirituality although some of what I said has a harsh tone. We need to be challenged, in fact I was challenged in this very area yesterday when a gentleman pointed out that my tune might change if Georgia’s record found itself further south of where it is now. He was right to challenge me and I confess that what he said bears merit. In the spirit of what he said let me issue everyone calling for his firing a challenge as well. Imagine for a moment that Richt had done as Beyoncé suggested and “put a ring on it” in the last 5 years; would you be calling for his firing after the pitiful showing of this year?

Published by Daniel M Harding

Husband, father, associate pastor.

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