Carrying on the Legacy

February 4, 2020

As I mentioned in my last week’s blog, the world has been reeling from the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and seven other precious people who were friends and loved ones. No one is overlooking the deaths of any of these people, and I certainly am not. The tragedy is overwhelming and massive, and every single life lost has left a wake of sorrow and grief that is unfathomable.

But because of Kobe’s prominence as an athlete and in public life in general, his philanthropy, and general contributions to public memory, Kobe’s death has stirred a level of emotion that has rocked the world. The news is filled with pictures of makeshift memorials everywhere that people connected in some way with Bryant. The Staples Center immediately had thousands of people milling around in shock and honor to him. Grief-stricken fans wore Bryant’s jersey, carried flowers, and bowed their heads. His picture loomed over the crowd on the Jumbotron screen outside Staples.

Just hours after Kobe was killed in the helicopter crash, the Grammy Awards, held at the Staples Center where Bryant and the Lakers played ball, quickly put together a tribute honoring the late NBA legend. Moments after Lizzo opened the evening's show, announcing “tonight is for Kobe,” host Alicia Keys took the stage. “Here we are together on Music’s Biggest Night,” Keys said somberly. “But to be honest with you, we’re all feeling crazy sad right now because earlier today, Los Angeles, America, and the whole wide world lost a hero, and we’re literally standing in here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”

Many athletes, professional and amateur, have changed their uniform numbers and written memorial messages on their shoes. This has extended well beyond basketball: The NFL Super Bowl management and players also paid tribute. Other organizations have had ceremonies, set up scholarships, etc.

His death affected many basketball friends and players deeply. One specific player with whom we here in Ohio are familiar with is LeBron James. James and Bryant were competitors who became friends. They played together on the U.S. Olympic team and became friends off the court as well. Their families spent time together, and James referred to Bryant’s daughter Gigi as his niece. Just before Bryant died, James passed him in the NBA all-time scoring card. Kobe tweeted his friend to say, “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect, my brother.”

Hours later Bryant was gone, and LeBron was overwhelmed with grief. He promised himself, Bryant’s family, and the world that he would always remember and carry on Bryant’s legacy. As a tangible and visible symbol of his commitment, James got a large tattoo on his thigh in remembrance of Bryant. He permanently paid tribute with a tattoo of a black mamba snake to honor The Black Mamba, Bryant's alter-ego that he created to separate who he was personally from his role on the court. The tattoo reads "Mamba 4 Life."

All of these remembrances are touching and heart-felt for a man who was well loved.

Kobe received attention for his talents, his heart, his compassionate work, good citizenship, and his capacity to be a great friend. We as Christ follower’s have One who died, not accidentally, but purposefully FOR us. He died and rose again in power to make a forever future possible with the God who loves us.

He intentionally called us to carry on His legacy. We are to remember His work, His purpose, His sacrificial death and powerful resurrection. We are to let it motivate us to carry on the legacy and share it until the day He returns. He even gave us something very special and specific to do. We call it Communion, or the Lord’s Supper. 

I want to invite you to one of our campuses this Wednesday night at 7 p.m. At each location we will be celebrating communion, reminding ourselves of what Christ has done for us and what He asks us to do in light of that. We are committed to building His legacy until He comes again.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 1 Corinthians 7:23-25