I am thinking of two persons very dear to me. One is my deceased grandmother; the other is a very close friend. They had and have two things in common: 1) they are two of the best Christian people I have ever known and 2) They were and are diehard baseball fans, particularly for their home teams (Cubs and Pirates respectfully). Why do I say they are the two best Christians I have known? Because if you run through the fruits of the spirit outlined in Galatians 5, this describes them perfectly. Of course it’s not just me who would say this about them—it is obvious to everyone. When my grandmother died people came out of the woodwork with stories of how she served them somehow, all of which was unknown to anyone in the family. Of course there was plenty we did know about, but we were amazed about how much we did not know. She was a great prayer warrior and spiritual force in our family. The same will be said of my friend. He has the kindest, gentlest spirit and he recently posted on FB that his greatest desire is to burn for the Lord Jesus. Of course that is exactly what he is doing and everyone knows it and sees it. In regard to baseball, my grandmother was a die hard Cubs fan. She was the type who would keep the box score on a sheet of paper while listening to or watching the game. She simply loved the game of baseball from a very young age. My friend is a diehard Pirates fan. He has fond memories of when he was young listening to a game during the day or evening while his dad was working a night shift. He would keep the box score, and then when his dad came home they would sit together at the kitchen table and recreate the game using the box score he had created earlier. His dad couldn’t listen to the game while he worked so my friend did this so they could experience the game together. The reason I am writing about this is because there are some people here who would say that my grandmother’s and friend’s love of the game of baseball is a sinful thing and that it somehow besmirches their testimony. They would attempt to tarnish the memory that my friend had with his dad going over the game. I guess they would say that instead of watching or listening to a game they should be reading the word. The only problem is that both of them were and are in the word more than anyone I know. My grandmother wore Bibles out. She inspired my love of the scriptures. My friend pores over the scriptures daily. So I just wanted to give a personal example of wonderful Christian people I know personally who also happen to like at least one form of “worldly entertainment.” And if a person thinks that their enjoyment of the game of baseball was or is somehow sinful, or that the Lord was or is displeased with them in some way, then I would simply say that they do not know what they are talking about.
This is precisely why it is so dangerous to make spiritual assumptions based upon outward appearance; i.e. "This person loves sports so he or she must not love God with all their heart." Such is Phariseeism 101. I should know, because I was guilty of it, and still catch myself slipping every now and then. Just this past Sunday I saw a guy in our church with messy, dishelveled hair and wearing flip-flops and torn jeans and partaking of the Lord's Supper. My heart judged him, secretly."This man does not reverence God", I thought. But our Father is compassionate with us. Almost instantly, the Holy Spirit reminded me that based upon my physical appearance, someone else could make the very same assumption, as just 5 minutes ago I was checking messages on my cell phone during the sermon. We are so hypocritical, so superficial, so limited in our understanding, so quick to judge and assume the worst instead of giving someone the benefit of the doubt and assuming the best. It's all part of our rotten, accusitive nature we inherited from Adam when he accused his own wife before God. The good news is that as we mature in Christ Jesus, those who accuse us without knowledge and fault-find become less and less traumatic to us. In other words, we care less and less about what they think of our baseball, our boardgames, our recreational hobbies or whatever it is - as long as we have not become stumbling blocks (wisdom helps us here). Safe and secure in the love of God and in the sanctuary of His Word, we gradually become insulated from the judgments of our angry fellow servants and our disquieted brothers and sisters, undertsanding that their judgmental stance is actually predicated upon their own spiritual insecurities and failure to understand their own identities in Christ. Brother Paul
_________________Paul Frederick West
A baseball and a glove and players hitting and catching balls is amoral in itself. Her sin wasn't loving baseball, it was rooting for the Pirates and Cubs. ;-)
Thanks for your thoughts Paul. I appreciate them very much. Last Sunday I also took a peak at email during chuch. Really no excuse for it so I think I need to consider not bringing it at all.Good one just-in! I wanted so badly for the Cubs to win a a world series before my grandma died but it was not meant to be.But I will tell you one thing about her that I did not tell in my first post. There was a point in her younger days where her love of the Cubs became a problem- she talks about how when they lost she would pout around and sometimes even shed tears. Of course I thought that was funny but she did not think it was funny. She recognized this issue and backed off. She would say the HS convicted her, which of course is what happened. I found myself doing this when I used to listen to a lot of political talk radio on my commute. I found myself getting all worked up over the stupidest stuff and it was all vanity. So I stopped listening. It is around that time that I found this website and fireonthealtar.com and started listening to many hours of preaching and experienced a personal revival. To Paul's point, if we truly love the Lord I think we can trust him to point out our foibles and excesses. He loves us and wants the best for us and His yoke is easy. Of course we have to listen and not rationalize, which I tend to be pretty good at.