Christians, Seriously, stop praising Muhammad Ali.
Yes, he was a famous, wealthy, well liked athlete by many people throughout the world and has become a symbol of his sport. However, according to the Bible, that is not what really matters at all:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that He who believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the World to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Everybody who believes is not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18)
The fact is that Muhammad Ali was born and raised a Christian but apostatized to Islam and remained an unrepentant Muslim until he died. Not only that, but he also was known for his pride and arrogance, things which the Bible clearly condemn.
Muhammad Ali’s death raises again a persistent problem that is found in Americans- Christian or not. That problem is our sanctification of people who are popular because they are well-liked during their lives, namely because they were rich or had some notable achievement, such as in sports or politics. We take men who do evil or questionable actions and sanctify them in our culture so they become, in essence, secular saints.
Look at a homeless man on the street some time. Have you ever considered that such a person, as little in the eyes of the world as he is, might be a very great man in Heaven after death because he loves and desires to follow Jesus? But he does not even have to be homeless- he could be an elderly neighbor, a parent, “that guy” everybody sees somewhere- name the place or time- true sainthood is found in obedience to the will of God through His Son, Jesus.
Many times throughout my articles I reference the above painting, entitled The Last Judgment by Rogier Van Der Weyden. I always look upon this painting because it is a reminder of the things that really matter in life- death, judgment, hell, and heaven. Indeed, the first two every man faces. The last two man has a choice, and he chooses by his personal decision and his actions.
I will not say what happened to Muhammad Ali because, truly, only God knows the final state of a man’s soul, and I do not with to presume a particular judgement over him.
But stop talking about Muhammad Ali as though he was some kind of saint, for he was a man who lived the majority of his life in apostasy and vanity and as far as we can tell enjoyed it to the end.