Read Luke 5:27-32.
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” (v. 30b)
When Justin Fuente took the job at Virginia Tech, he broke one of the coaching profession’s most ironclad rules.
By the end of October 2015, Frank Beamer had decided that the season would be his last as the Hokies’ head football coach. On Oct. 30, he informed athletics director Whit Babcock of his decision to retire. That early notice gave the AD a head start in his search to find his next head coach.
In his coaching search, Babcock found himself caught between a blessing and a curse. Tech had all the pieces necessary for gridiron greatness: “new facilities, a stellar reputation among recruits, a fervent fan base.” But then there was the rule, the one that says no coach in his right mind should ever follow a legend.
And Beamer is a legend, “an entire campus’s beloved grandpa — who also happened to have turned a middling program into a perennial contender.”
Fuente was very much aware of the rule. “One of the first questions I asked Whit [Babcock} when we talked about it was why would I want to follow Coach Beamer,” he said. But Fuente is at heart a small-town guy who likes “relative remoteness.” “He wants a place to raise his kids and a place to invest and a place that’ll embrace hard work,” said Bill Blankenship, Fuente’s high school coach in Tulsa.
For Fuente, Blacksburg met all those criteria. So when Babcock called with an offer, the 39-year-old coach liked everything about it. The final decision was made after a one-on-one, four-hour meeting with longtime Hokie defensive coordinator Bud Foster in Fuente’s Memphis home. The two hit it off and “reached a quiet agreement” around daybreak. Foster agreed to stay on.
Fuente the rule-breaker was Tech’s new head football coach.
You live by rules that others set up. Some lender determined the interest rate on your mortgage. You work hours and shifts somebody else established. Someone else decided what day your garbage gets picked up and what school district your house is in.
Jesus encountered societal rules also. These included a strict set of religious edicts that dictated what company he should keep, what people, in other words, were fit for him to socialize with, talk to, or share a meal with. Jesus simply ignored the rules. He chose love instead of mindless obedience, and he demonstrated his disdain for society’s rules by mingling with the outcasts, the lowlifes, the poor, and the misfits.
You, too, have to choose when you find yourself in the presence of someone whom society disparages or your peers declare to be undesirable.
Are you willing to be a rebel for love — as Jesus was for you?
Everybody follows the rule: Don’t be the guy that follows the guy. — Justin Fuente on succeeding Frank Beamer
Society’s rules dictate who is acceptable and who is not, but love in the name of Jesus knows no such distinctions.