Baseball and the Apostle Paul

There is hope … hope for the passing of winter. Just as Punxatawny Phil  guarantees only six more weeks of winter (whether the dumb rodent sees its shadow or not), so the onset of baseball spring training means that Spring is about to … well … spring! And yes, dear Christians, baseball has begun again in Florida! All is well in the world.

One of the reasons I like baseball so much is that it is a most fair sport (although, as a high school distance running coach, I could argue that running is the ultimate fair sport). Athletic talent alone cannot make you good at baseball. There are no pure naturals who excel at it the first day. It takes work and attention to detail, and over time, there is reward for those who most invest.

And beyond that, it replicates the realities of life. The season is long. Even the best fail about 70% of the time! No one person can carry a team by himself; it takes everyone working together. But one key player on a given day can win or lose the game for everyone else. Sometimes the team that deserves to win does not, but in the end, the best team who did the most right things the most often will prevail. And in the long run, the statistics don’t lie.

As a pastor and teacher, another reason I love baseball is because it also replicates some biblical teachings – particularly of the Apostle Paul.

Albert Pujols baseball - hopefully he tithes his income!

One of the major teachings of Christianity as expressed in the institution of the Church is that everyone has value and has a place of needed contribution. Though some may seem more important, everyone is given gifts and talents by God to contribute to the good of everyone else. The Apostle Paul (in 1 Corinthians 12) talks about this by using the illustration of the human body – how the body is not all hands or all feet, but many parts. And even the smallest part – one often overlooked and forgotten – when it hurts, everything hurts! So God has made it that in a church, everyone needs everyone else; it is not just teachers and preachers that are important, but equally also those folks who do things behind the scenes like care for people in their times of need.

A baseball team is a great illustration of the same big idea. In fact, if the Apostle Paul (who was clearly a sports fan!) knew about the game of baseball, and if it was played on the isthmus of the Greek peninsula in the 1st century, I am convinced he would have preferred using it as a metaphor in 1 Corinthians 12.

A baseball team that excels is comprised of a wonderful diversity of talents. A baseball team often has big strong guys to play positions like catcher and first base, smaller fast guys for the middle infield (and yes O’s fans, Cal broke the mold on that), and gifted athletes to roam the outfield. Some players hit, some catch, some pitch … where would a team be with all hitters and no pitchers; or, just the opposite?

Baseball is the best game! I am sure God loves it, but can’t give you any reference for that beyond His creation of everything in the big-inning.

If you are an Orioles fan or are interested in my Orioles writing on the Fansided Sports Network, go to http://birdswatcher.com … where if one of my articles is not featured on the front page, you can find my name on the staff writers list and check out my many, many baseball opinions.

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