Thursday, August 5, 2010

Baseball, Jesus, and Credibility with God

One of my summer passions in recent years is Texas Rangers baseball. I've even learned some things about my spiritual life from watching this sport we call America's pastime. And this one is no different.
Anyone who is even a casual baseball fan knows the Texas Rangers have never been a great team. In fact, they are one of only three teams who have never won a World Series (Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals-formerly the Montreal Expos-are the other two), and the only team in MLB who has never won a playoff series. So the case could be made that historically they are the worst team in baseball, given their 38-year history.

But something happened in 1989 that was pivotal for the organization. The Rangers brought on legendary right-handed pitcher Nolan Ryan who was considered by some to be a has-been at the end of his career. But Nolan added one thing this mediocre organization desperately needed-credibility. Having a record-setting pitcher who was as respected off the field as he was on the mound caused people to view the Rangers in a different light.

After his retirement as a player and pursuing some other ventures both inside and outside of baseball, Nolan Ryan came back to the Rangers in 2008 to be the team president. Ryan's presence in both the late 80's/early 90's as a player and in the front office of recent years were both pivotal in setting the team in the right direction. In his first year as team president, the Rangers had one of their best seasons in years, and currently have an 8-game lead over the Angels and A's in the AL West. Ryan has also partnered with Chuck Greenberg recently to purchase the ball club, outbidding Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban.

As I thought about the impact one person has had on such a large organization, I was reminded of the impact one person has had on all of us. I John 2:1 says that we should not sin. But if we do sin, we have one who speaks to God in our defense-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. Jesus gives us credibility before a God of wrath and judgment who cannot look at our sin. Please forgive me for comparing our Savior to a man who used to throw baseballs really hard. But I am reminded of the role that Christ plays in our relationship to God. Our credibility with God was earned through his perfection in life and his sacrifice in death. So we as Christians can hold our heads up, because we have credibility. We don't have to be the embarrassing excuses for people we once were, because we have someone who speaks to God in our defense-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One!

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