It's well known that Ray Lewis, the now retired star linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens, was accused of murdering two men outside an Atlanta nightclub in 2000. He was not found guilty of those crimes but he did wind up paying a financial settlement to the families of the victims. Many still have questions about Lewis' involvement in those slayings. I certainly can't answer those questions, but I do have several problems with what he said in answer to a question about the murders in an interview that aired prior to Super Bowl XLVII last Sunday. Here I'll point out only one of my difficulties with Lewis' words.
He was asked by Shannon Sharpe what he would say to the families of the victims of the murders. Here is part of Lewis' response: "To the family, if you knew — if you really knew — the way God works, He don’t use people who commits anything like that for his glory. No way. It’s the total opposite.”
I'm sure Lewis meant well, but his theology is terribly flawed. His point appears to be that God has used him in the 13 years since those murders and God wouldn't use him if he was a murderer. Leaving Lewis' specific case aside, it is simply not true that God doesn't use people who commit crimes like murder.
Moses was a murderer (Exodus 2:11-15) and God called him to lead the people of Israel out of bondage.
King David was a murderer (2 Samuel 11) and he is named in a New Testament list of faith heroes (Hebrews 11).
The Apostle Paul assisted in the killing of Christians (Acts 8:1), but, after a change in heart, he became probably the most aggressive advocate of Christianity of his time and his words are still treated as inspired by God by Christians today.
Obviously there is ample biblical evidence that God at times uses murderers for his glory. Certainly all followers of Christ must strive to live holy lives (1 Peter 1:14-16). But when we mess up (and we will), even if we mess up big, thankfully, God isn't finished working through us. The Lord is always ready to forgive as we turn to him in repentance and faith and he still has great plans for us even after we stray.
I appreciate Ray Lewis' willingness to openly share his faith in Christ on a very public stage. But he got his theology badly wrong in the interview that aired before the Super Bowl. God's grace is bigger, a lot bigger, than Ray Lewis seems to think.