Induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is one of the most prestigious honors in all of sports. When considering the number of players on every team each year, and how only a small number make it to Canton, this is truly a tremendous accomplishment.

From the gold jackets…to the bronze busts…to the enshrinement ceremonies, when players receive the call, they know they are joining an elite group of men.

This past weekend, the class of 2018 was announced: Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Bobby Beathard, Jerry Kramer, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, and Randy Moss.

Included on this exlusive list was also Terrell Owens. As controversial as his behavior has been on and off the field, and not making the cut the past two years, he’s actually heading to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Owens had an impressive 16-year run with 1,078 career receptions, 15,934 yards, and 156 touchdowns, however, his antics with the media and problems in the locker room were disconcerting.

Although his talent as one of the best wide receivers in the league remains unquestionable, his attitude and behavior are questionable.

As a result, there are more than likely members of the Hall of Fame who don’t feel T.O.’s reputation lives up to their distinguished club’s standard. Even so, he is joining the Hall of Fame family and the members must put aside his past issues and transgressions by accepting him on their “team.”

A similar parallel within the family of God is worth unpacking today. When we “get the call” and receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we join the body of believers and are included in the most important group of people.

We don’t deserve to be allowed in, but thankfully grace covers us. Our inclusion isn’t based on our own accomplishments, but instead is a gift from God.

So why do we forget the grace that was shown us and not always welcome new “members” of the family of God with open arms?

We need to lovingly accept them on our team, and not label them or hold their past transgressions against them. If we aren’t careful, we can easily become judgmental and elitist while setting them up to our own standards.

The truth is, none of us are worthy of the “Hall of Fame” and Jesus has to cleanse each of us. The only way we’re in is because of His work on the cross. Our individual efforts are never going to be enough.

The Almighty and perfect God is willing to forgive and wipe clean our past transgressions by accepting each of us into His family. Why would we ever hold back our love to some…or secretly think they don’t deserve forgiveness for what they’ve done?

Owens didn’t have a perfect Hall of Fame career, and neither did Brett Favre…Dan Marino…or even Kurt Warner and Tony Dungy. However, they are all in the same place – connected and clothed in a gold jacket with a unique path to Canton worth celebrating.

None of us have lived or will live a perfect life, yet when we receive salvation through Jesus, we’re all heading to the same place – connected to each other and clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

In view of that, let’s celebrate each of our paths to Jesus and the grace He’s shown us all. Let’s be encouraged by 1 John 4:7-11 (NLT) to be filled with love for one another:

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

“God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.”

I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I’m so thankful you accepted me into Your family by grace through faith in Jesus’ work on the cross. I pray I would be filled with love and grace toward others, and celebrate when someone who was far from You surrenders. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.