About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Baseball And The Body Of Christ


While jogging the streets in 1978 I used to hear a radio on someone's porch broadcasting Montreal Expos baseball games.  One day I decided to tune into the game for myself.  I've been a baseball fan ever since. 


I'll never forget the afternoon in October 1981 while working with my friend Bill Freeman in his upholstery shop in Richmond, Virginia.  It made no sense for us to continue working.  Our eyes were fixated on the TV.  It was the top of the 9th inning of game 5 of the best of 5 NLCS.  Rick Monday, of the Los Angeles Dodgers, broke the tie with a home run.  The Expos couldn't come back in the bottom of the 9th inning.  L A beat Montreal 2 to 1.  One swing of the bat prevented the Expos from going to the World Series.  It saddened the heart of every Canadian baseball fan.  Expo fans are convinced that if not for the baseball strike of 1994 their team would have made it to the World Series and easily beaten the New York Yankees.        


As I write this article in August, 2015, the recent success of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team is the talk of Canada.  The Blue Jays came into existence in 1977.  After losing out to the Kansas City Royals in disheartening fashion in the 1985 ALCS, the Jays finally won the World Series in 1992 and 1993. 


Many baseball traditionalists say that pitching and defense wins games.  Earl Weaver, former bench coach of the Baltimore Orioles during the 1980's, maintained that the three run homer wins games.  Others say small ball wins games.  I say it's more than offensive, defensive, and home runs, that wins baseball games.


The casual observer might think that the success of a baseball team is determined by the players on the field, but that's not so.  A baseball team consists of more than the 25 players on the roster, or the 40 players on the post September 1st roster.       


On August 1, 2014, many Toronto Blue Jay players were openly upset that Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos failed to make any player trades before the July 31st non-waver trade deadline.  Jays right fielder and home run champion, Jose Bautista, publically expressed his frustration with Anthopoulus for not improving the team via a trade or free agency.   


The general manager of a baseball team doesn't hit fast balls or sliders, but he is a crucial player to a successful team.  He works all year long.  Acquisitions and trades are made in winter as well as summer.  He works the phone day and night, searching for the next big deal.  This year Alex Anthopoulus sent his wife and child on a vacation to Portugal so he could devote his full attention to making trades prior to the non-waver trade deadline.   There was one night that he never even slept.  He made the biggest trade in his career, getting David Price, the best pitcher in baseball, from the Tigers, and that at 3 in the morning.  Jose Bautista didn't complain this year. Even though the boys of summer play the game between the lines from April to October; the business of baseball is played all year long. 


Besides the general manager there's the owner of the team, the president, the bench coach, the assistant bench coach, the batting coach, the pitching coach, the base coaches, the trainers, the team doctor, the equipment manager and staff, the logistics manager and staff, the grounds crew, the business manager and staff, all of the owners, coaches, managers, and players on the farm teams, the scouts who travel the world, and the fans who sit in the stands buying the team's memorabilia.  Clearly, there's more to a baseball team that what meets the eye.   


I believe that if the Apostle Paul was alive today, and if he had the time, he'd be a sports fan.  His sports analogy in 1 Corinthians 9:24 suggests that to me.  For Paul, teamwork was vital, as seen in 1 Corinthians 12 where he says that Team Jesus (he doesn't actually say those exact words) consists of various people with various gifts and various duties.  As in baseball, we're not all home run hitters, strike out pitchers, or base stealers.  Each one of us has a gift that is expected to be used for the success of the team, or in this case, the success of the Body of Christ.  No one is to sit on the bench watching others doing the work.       


In 1 Corinthians 12:13 Paul says that the believer has been baptized into Christ's body.  Paul isn't talking about water baptism here.  He's not talking about joining a church, going to church, or making church a casual concern.  He's talking about being immersed in church, being saturated with the companionship of those to whom Jesus has joined us in the Body of Christ.   


Throughout Paul's writings he admonishes his teammates to live a life of godly character.  As in baseball, motivation, selflessness, persistence, hard work, and loyalty, are essential for success.  


In 1 Corinthians 12:21 Paul says that the eye can't tell the hand it isn't needed.  In verse 23 he says that the parts of the Body of Christ that aren't seen are just as important as those who are seen.  Everyone has an important role to play.  No one is excluded. 


I have one question.  How is it that we understand how a successful baseball team works but we don't seem to understand how a successful Team Jesus works?


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