Yes, there are the major leagues . . . I don’t think I’ll ever be there, except as a spectator ‘way up in the nosebleed section. And there is the little league, where you go to watch your kids or your friend’s kids play. We all have a soft spot in our heart's for the little league team. So many of life's fundamental lessons can be taught and learned on the little league field.
There are many similarities between a little league team and the church. If you're wondering about what church is like (or what our church is like at least) here are some good analogies. We hope you'll come visit to learn more.
1. We need to value our differences. Teams are made of individuals who each contribute to the whole with their unique design, backgrounds and strengths. Our church attempts to function as a team. For instance, you need a lot of different skills to put together a team. Someone who is a great hitter may not be such a great pitcher. The coach might be the greatest coach in the world—and work from a wheelchair. Just so, 1 Corinthians 12 says that there are “diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. . . . differences of ministries, but the same Lord. So, When the "black-and-white-rules person" wants to come down hard on some rowdy teen, and the "gentle-spirited, all-mercy" person takes offense and desires leniency for the kid, perhaps the perspectives of both are needed to properly work for the good and growth of the teen in question. You need a lot of different skills on a team and in a church, and every person matters. Instead of resenting or despising the person with a different perspective, perhaps we need to see what we can learn from each other.
2. I love the words of encouragement that you hear in a little league game. These are needed in the church as well. “Keep it up! You’ll get it next time.” The church is all about encouraging one another: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting [encouraging] one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” [i]
3. And, yes, we have those errors. Baseball, the game of statistics, has a category just for the big E, right up there with batting averages and league standings. In the church we need to let go of our errors (“forgetting those things which are behind”), but we need to learn from them too. Linus, that great philosopher of the Peanuts comic strip, offered this comfort: “Don’t worry Charlie Brown, we learn more from our failures than we do from our successes.” Charlie Brown, of tragic baseball experience, replied, “That makes me the smartest person in the world.” We do not need to be that hard on ourselves. If God has forgiven, hadn’t we better get on board with that? It is Satan (literally, “the accuser”) who keeps us crushed under the weight of past errors. But we should learn from our errors, whether they are individual errors, or our ideas in the church that just do not reflect God’s Word and God’s character. We need to learn from our errors.
4. It’s absolutely essential to maintain unity on a team or in church. Sometimes in the big leagues the bullpen empties into a mid-field brawl. But they tend to fight the guys on the other team. “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” [ii] Need I say more? Let’s keep our eyes on the goal.
5. And that goal is . . . what? A baseball team just wants to get more players across the home plate than the other team. They do what it takes. Someone takes a risk and steals third. The next batter bunts between first and second, sacrificing his run to let the player on third reach home. Each does his part toward one simple goal. Our one goal in the church is to glorify God. God speaks of us a “precious in my sight . . . everyone who is called by my name, whom I have created for my glory.” [iii] Yes, sharing the Gospel is part of glorifying God, as are keeping one’s conscience clear, serving the community, or being faithful to your local church; but these are all just part of the one, over-arching goal. The church is here to glorify God. Are you on the team?
[i] Hebrews 10:24-25
[ii] James 4:1
[iii] Isaiah 43:4, 7
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