Cracking open the Bible is an intimidating and daunting task. Just reading it can be difficult, and applying the ideas can be even more so. “A Baseball Guy’s Bible Guide” will walk readers through the Word, recommending readings and videos to accompany the ideas that we can take to the diamond along the way. It’s all about trying to get us, as baseball people, more engaged in the Bible and speaking “The Gospel of Jesus in the Language of Baseball.” We’ll start by exploring three ideas from Genesis 1-11 and bringing them into the context of baseball. I am sure you know the stories, but take some time to read Genesis 1-11 and watch the Bible Project’s video outlining the framework of Genesis 1-11 as well.
Due up in the Bottom of the Ninth:
- Knowing vs. Doing
- Defining Good and Evil
- Building Kingdoms
Knowing vs. Doing
In Bull Durham, Nuke Laloosh is a struggling, arrogant, young pitcher in need of guidance. He is listening to a lot of different voices and trying to find his way on the mound. In a moment of clarity, he finds freedom, whips in a strike, and stands on the mound shocked. In that moment he says, “God, that was beautiful, what’d I do?” Anyone who has played the game can relate to Nuke as we know there is a distinct difference between Knowing and Doing. The interesting thing about this moment is that it brings us back to the Garden of Eden. Take a look at Genesis 2:9,16-17:
“And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
We have the Tree of Life and we have the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. One leads to freedom, while the other leads to bondage and death. One leads to those beautiful moments on the field like Nuke experienced, and the other leads to a tailspin of frustration. It seems that this disconnect between a free mind designed for the life we were designed to live and those moments when we can’t get out of our own heads has roots in the very beginning of creation and the fall. We can tap into those moments like Nuke did on this side of eternity, but not grasp them consistently.
I wonder a couple of things. I wonder if there is abundantly more life in creating beautiful moments on the field than there is in filling our minds with all of the knowledge available at our fingertips in the internet age. I wonder if players are to focus on being artists and creating those moments, and coaches are supposed to focus on creating life-giving relationships and environments for the players. I wonder if this is what is rooted in the story of the Garden of Eden.
Defining good and evil
The fact of it is that once Adam and Eve ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, God allowed us the opportunity to choose between His way and our way. We can choose to define good and evil for ourselves, or we can let God define it for us. Newsflash - we’re terrible at defining good and evil.
Have you ever engaged in an argument/discussion/debate about how a certain play should be scored during a game? We have rule books at all levels of baseball, but there are still areas where controversy brews. While these plays are fewer at the big-league level, I can tell you that the JV and Freshman levels of high school baseball are full of moments leaving everyone saying “I’ve never seen that before” and asking “How would you score that?”
The answer in these scenarios is to go to the source. In baseball, you go to the rule book. In life, we should go to the Bible. God wants us to flourish - we have to remember that. The Bible provides us with what is good and we should follow God’s definition of good in order to reflect the goodness, creativity, and character of God. In this effort, God will commune with us and He is constantly available to us. Like Noah who did all that God commended of him, we, too, can be a cleansing agent in this world by not seeking our own definitions of good and evil.
Whether we’re talking about the Garden of Eden or Noah and the Flood, the extraordinary truths portrayed in the stories of Genesis are so rich. The Tower of Babel is the same and we continue to see this story lived out year after year.
The people have come upon a new technology, the brick, and they say, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:4). How often do we see players, managers, or owners seeking to build their own kingdoms with their own interests in mind? We see it in someone else and we recognize that abundance of the wrong kind of pride in someone else. The problem becomes that we often fail to recognize that failing in ourselves.
The greatest in the game make those around him better. The greatest leaders in our world are marked with humility. While we witness individuals building their own Tower of Babel, we have to resist the urge to only make a name for ourselves. We are called to be people who are set apart by God, just like the Jewish people who transcribed these stories. We have to seek life, let God define good and evil for us, and find our freedom through Jesus, the promised one who defeated evil at the source.
I look forward to your thoughts and comments on this installment of “A Baseball Guy’s Bible Guide” and look forward to walking through Genesis 12-50 soon!