There's been quite a media storm in the news over the allegations of sexual misconduct by former Penn State assistant couch Jerry Sandusky. (And yes, I realize the term "sexual misconduct" doesn't really describe the horrific act that Sandusky is accused of, but our society seems to like watering down heinous crimes with words. However, that is another blog for another time.) The fallout from these accusations has been tremendous and widespread and, to be sure, it isn't over yet.
One individual who seems to be getting more media attention than anyone else (including the alleged perpetrator of these crimes) is long time couch, Joe Paterno. His illustrious career abruptly ended and his once great name now covered in shame, Joe Paterno has suffered the consequences of one choice. A choice, not of taking an action, but of not taking enough action. However you may feel about Paterno's dismissal and punishment the reality is still there. Regardless of whether you think the consequences are too severe or not severe enough, he is suffering them. This temporal situation, therefore, brings up a very eternal reality.
Joe Paterno would have, by many, been considered a good man. He has a long career of pouring into young men and getting the best out of them. He spoke often of honor and gave to the community and school in various ways. Yet one decision has tarnished all of that. A decision that was obviously not as horrendous as the actual crime, but certainly connected to it in a lesser degree. All the good he has done did not outweigh the one wrong in the eyes of his superiors or in the eyes of many in the community. One small act on his part poisoned all the good.
In the Bible, James 2:10 tells us, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." Most individuals consider themselves to be "a good person." Our good works, in our eyes, outweigh our bad deeds and so God will see us as good and we will enter His holy heaven, we think. Strangely enough, such logic doesn't even work here on earth. Consider the case of Joe Paterno. If all the good acts of this man can be tainted by one bad act then how much more will all of our good works be tainted by our bad ones in the sight of a holy God? The book of James is clear, it only takes one sin to be guilty of all and everyone has committed at least one sin.
So here we are, all running around like little JoePas before the Lord hoping the good we have done will somehow wash out the bad. It doesn't work that way; not before men and not before God. This is why we need a Savior. His righteousness and His blood wash away the stains from our goodness.
Certainly there will be more fallout to come from Penn State. More "good people" will be revealed as not so good. I hope that the victims receive justice and truth is revealed. However, as we watch all of this unfold let us consider our own tainted good works lest we stand before God one day believing we have done enough to cancel out our sin only to experience our own JoePa moment.