Faith

Uncanny Connections Between Baseball and the Christian Life

The popular game is like a live-action sermon, says this pastor — if only you open your eyes to it

In my house we make it a priority to attend as many minor league baseball games over the summer as we can. Is there anything more family-friendly than minor league baseball? Tickets are cheap, hot dogs are cheaper, and the on-field entertainment is always G-rated.

It’s a dad’s dream come true.

There’s a reason baseball continues to be America’s favorite pastime. It’s a wonderful combination of the greenest grass, the smell of popcorn, and the crack of the bat. We love to watch the “boys of summer” take the field in their starched uniforms and flat-brimmed hats and play a game that we, too, once played in the backyard of our own homes or in our neighborhoods.

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I have one question, though. Am I the only person watching the game thinking about the Christian life? Every time I attend a baseball game, I can’t help but notice the uncanny connections between baseball and the Christian experience. In so many ways, a baseball game is like a live-action sermon — illustrating some of the Bible’s most encouraging truths about the Christian life.

Here’s how I see it.

1.) Your goal is to get home. Baseball stadiums are known for their high-tech video screens and delicate designs mowed into the outfield grass. But nothing is more important than that 17-inch piece of whitened rubber known as home plate. Every baseball fan understands that the purpose of all the action is to bring a man “home.”

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The Bible teaches that Heaven is our eternal home, and God graciously made a way for sinners like us to arrive there (John 3:16). Christianity isn’t all that complicated. Get past the buildings and the budgets, and it all comes down to this: We believe in Jesus Christ by faith, and He brings us home (Philippians 1:6).

2.) You’re making a trip around the bases. When a hitter crushes a line drive into the outfield gap, sprints around second base, and slides into third, the crowd stands and cheers. Fans know it is only by the progression of bases that a runner can get home. In the same way, every Christian is on a journey from here to Heaven. It starts with salvation — believing in Jesus by faith.

Next comes discipleship — being baptized, along with growth in Bible reading, prayer, and worship. The next step is service — loving others and leading them to faith in Jesus. At each step along the way, the Christian grows in Christ-likeness (Romans 8:29) and draws closer to eternal glory (Romans 8:30).

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3.) You’re part of an amazing team. Golf, tennis and weightlifting all emphasize the individual. But baseball is a premier team sport. It takes nine players working together to earn a win. In a similar way, the Bible teaches that the Christian life is a group effort. Every Christian is a valued member of the church, which is more than just an organization — it’s a devoted family (Ephesians 2:19) and a united body (Ephesians 4:12). We’re working together as one team to reach this hurting world with the hopeful news of Christ. The Christian life isn’t always easy, but we’re in it together — and Jesus has promised us the victory (1 Corinthians 15:57).

4.) You get many chances to contribute. The unpredictability of baseball is part of what makes it great. One player hits a towering home run, while the next strikes out swinging. But did you notice that whenever a player strikes out, he doesn’t sit in the dugout and pout? No, he presses on — knowing that during the game he’s going to have numerous at-bats. Each time he steps to the plate, he gets a new chance to help his team.

It’s the same way in the Christian life. Today may have seen an ugly strikeout — an angry outburst at work, lustful thoughts in private, or a failure to pray over a critical decision. But because of God’s mercy (Lamentations 3:22-23), tomorrow brings a fresh opportunity to grow spiritually, love others, and make a difference for Christ.

5.) You have a manager you can trust. To some people, baseball may seem a haphazard game. Pitching, hitting, running — it all just happens, right? Not so fast. Look closely in the dugout, and you’ll see a manager with a keen mind and a game plan. It’s his job to start the right pitcher, select the best lineup, and stir the team’s morale. The team will ultimately have success because of his ability to put the right players in the right places at the right times.

As Christians, our lives aren’t subject to chance. We have a wise manager, too — an Almighty God who orchestrates everything for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28). Whatever comes our way, His game plan is solid. After all these years, He’s still undefeated!

Related: My Parents Raised Four Faithful Catholics: Here’s How

At my house, summer doesn’t officially arrive until that first warm night with my family at the ballpark. Home runs and high-fives — this is baseball in America.

But it isn’t long before my thoughts turn to God, the Bible, and my Christian experience. No, it isn’t all that organ music stirring my soul. It’s the game on the field, reminding me of so many encouraging spiritual realities that are continually at work in Christian life. It’s an amazing sermon, if only you’ll open your eyes to see it.

Pastor Ryan Day is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where he has served for 18 years. He is a regular contributor to LifeZette.

(photo credit, article image: Jared Vincent, Flickr)

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