January 11, 2020

What I Read Today;

Genesis 31-33; Psalm 11; Matthew 11; Romans 11

I started playing baseball when I was nine years old.  I really loved the game.  From the ages of 10 to 12, I played for the same coach.  Ron tried to teach the game and make it fun at the same time.  I remember getting a double to tie a game and then scoring on a passed ball to win the game a few seconds later.  I remember Ron sprinting towards me with this huge grin on his face.  I really thought Ron was going to throw me to the moon when he lifted me off the ground.  Ron had a way of talking to you about your mistakes without making you feel like you were a terrible player.  He taught and coached the game as if you were his own child.

When I turned 13, I moved up to the Senior Division.

I was introduced to poor coaching in my first year.  The coach knew the game of baseball.  He had been an excellent player.  But it was all about him.  It was his ego that was driving the team.  If a player made a mistake, the coach acted like you were doing it to shame him.  This coach would scream at us for anything we did wrong.  He and his father berated anyone who made a mistake.  By midseason, we had fallen near the bottom of the league.  By the end of the year, I was ready to quit and never play again. Not one player made an all-star team that year.  The coach had nearly killed my love of the game.

Thankfully, the league stepped in that off-season and removed the coach and replaced him.  The coaches focused all their efforts on making the players better.  We knew they cared about us.  The new coach took the same group of players and came within 1 game of winning our conference.  Of the 12 players on the roster, 5 of us made the all-star team.

What a difference a leader makes.

People today are wandering around, looking for a leader.  The messages they’ve gotten are mixed at best.  Some screaming that the law must be fully obeyed.  Others shouting about a social gospel.  Others with a message of prosperity if you have enough faith.  They’ve seen ministers ask for donations so they can buy new airplanes.  They’ve seen others denounce divorce and then go through multiple spouses. It gets confusing after a while.  For some ministers, it’s become about themselves.  They neglect the people in the pews.

It sucks the love of Jesus out of many people.

Jesus was faced with this problem, as well.  He knew that the common man and woman walking the streets was struggling.  Arbitrary rules were added to God’s law and twisted to the point that the average person had no idea what salvation even looked like anymore.  Battered and confused, many withdrew from the church.  They couldn’t find comfort in the one place that should have brought happiness.  Church leaders were pointing out the people’s errors to make themselves look spiritually superior.

Jesus consistently condemned the spiritual elite.  He held nothing back in his condemnation of those who used the Church to make themselves look better than others.

Jesus reached out to those who had suffered spiritually.  Those who needed the sweet message of the Gospel of grace and forgiveness.

He reaches out to each one of them right now when we read these words:

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  NRSV

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