The gospel, sports, and a critical spirit

The gospel really should permeate all of life. There is no part of our lives it should not touch and change. Fortunately Randy challenged me, and of course the Holy Spirit followed up and sealed the deal to apply the gospel to something quite mundane: how I view errors in baseball. But again, since Christ will finish the work He started (Phil 1:6), the mundane is fair game from now until He returns.

Let me explain. I was “down” on one of the Tampa Bay Ray’s players Willy Ayabar. He made several horrendous errors in one inning and mistakes that weren’t deemed errors in another. All this after a game in which he almost cost the Rays the game because of another error. I argued that Willy shouldn’t be playing the field. Nothing wrong with that.

But the heart behind my statements revealed a critical spirit. Randy posed the question, “What if someone just came to hear you preach one Sunday and you were “off” that Sunday (Ayabar doesn’t play everyday)?” Certainly I’ve had better and worse sermon content, delivery, application, ethos, etc…some days than others. Wouldn’t I hope people give me the benefit of the doubt?

Since I’m not the owner, manager, or even a teammate, my thoughts and discussion of the Rays don’t count for anything (although Joe Maddon did seem to take my advice of moving Jason Bartlett down in the batting order to offset lack of production from the 9th spot). I’m simply dealing with a critical heart behind my thoughts.

That spirit came up again the next day when the umps blew a terrible call, which should have been strike 3 and ended the inning. The next pitch was hit hard, and center fielder B.J. Upton misplayed it, leading to a 3 run inning which proved enough to win the game for Obama’s White Sox.

I became angry at the Ump for his missed call, angry at Upton’s fielding mistake, and then at Wheeler for giving up the third run on a single. I was still angry the next day. Baseball players and umps go through a 162 game season. That’s quite a number of games. They will make mistakes. I would too.

And I make mistakes on my job, as you do on yours. While I’m not getting paid as handsomely as Aybar or Upton, I would hope that people show me grace when I screw up. The gospel reminds me how often I don’t deserve grace, but that God still lavishes it upon me. I ought to extend that to others who make mistakes, and so should you. I still think Aybar would best fit at D.H. or first base, but I’m beginning to see the need for the gospel to change even how I enjoy-or don’t enjoy-and follow sports.

Interestingly enough, while searching for an image for Willy Aybar, I came across a fascinating story of his redemption from alcoholism.

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