I’ve been a Giant fan my entire life. I was weaned on Mays, McCovey, Cepeda and hot dog wrappers flying in the gusts of wind at Candlestick Park. Growing up, it seemed like we always came in second, but now we’ve won another World Series title. These are good days to be a Giant fan.
Walt Whitman said, “The game of ball is glorious,” and I think he was onto something. There are so many parallels between faith and baseball. Maybe that’s why we love it so much.
Baseball has its cathedrals – amazing ballparks, hallowed grounds, two of which were featured this past week: Comerica Park and our own blessed AT&T! The first time I walked into a big league ballpark as a boy what I felt was akin to worship.
Baseball has its saints – e.g. Lou Gehrig (the Iron Horse) and Jackie Robinson (the first African-American player of the modern era) – and sinners – e.g. “Pete Rose (who made a bet) and Barry Bonds (who took steroids). It has its Suffering Servant – the Chicago Cubs, a team “like a sheep led to the slaughter.” There is even the Great Satan: the Los Angeles Dodgers (at least for those of us in the Bay Area).
Baseball always brings out the child in you, and draws you back to your childhood, indeed makes your childhood present. “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.” (Mark 10:15)
Baseball is all about TEAM. The Giants epitomized that this year. There was a lack of ego; a willingness to play whatever role contributed to the team’s success. “As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’” (1 Corinthians 12:20-21) Even in the broadcast booth this was evident as Hall of Famer, John Miller, handed the mic to young Dave Fleming to make the historic call in the 10th inning!
Baseball abounds in hope (Rom. 15:13). Even when a team is down two games to none, or three games to one, there is still hope. Even when the last out of the season is made there is always, “Next year!” Maranatha!
Finally, even our sometimes idolatrous love of our team can teach us about our salvation. So many of us in the Bay Area identify with the Giants. It’s like we’re connected to them. This is a small picture of the way we must identify with Jesus. In the Old Testament, when you brought an offering to God, you laid your hands on the head of the animal and confessed your sins. The laying of the hands on the animal showed that you identified yourself with the animal. In salvation, we identify ourselves with Jesus: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Rom. 6:5) For us, in a small way, when the Giants win, we feel like we win. When they lose, we feel like we lose. In a way, that’s also true of our relationship with Jesus. When He died, we died. When He rose, we rose. The new life He has, we have in Him.
The best part of this whole deal is that Jesus can’t really lose; as long as we identify ourselves in Him, we always win. Even in seeming defeat (the cross), dare I say, especially in seeming defeat, we have the sure hope of the resurrection. The Giants will eventually disappoint, but He never will disappoint.
Congratulations, San Francisco Giants! You’ve made me a true believer!