Outside the Inner-Circle

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Having been a part of baseball culture for most of my life and still now devoting my life to working with coaches and athletes, I have been in and out of countless locker rooms, been around countless players and coaches, and been on countless teams. While each team has its unique culture, we as baseball people have created our own unique culture, things that we understand that other people would think are crazy. Let me give you an example: have you ever had a non-baseball guy ask to borrow your glove? Even if you’re a nice guy, I have yet to meet a baseball guy who doesn’t think twice about someone else putting their hand in your glove, that’s your baby, you don’t want to do anything that could compromise the relationship you have between your glove and you, its common knowledge among baseball guys, but other people think your crazy. Or have you ever been to the field and seen non-baseball guys warming up on the infield, stepping on the line, or (I only saw this once) hitting fungos with a tennis racquet? These are things we cringe at, but outside of the baseball world they don’t make sense to people. Romans 14: 1-13 says: “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master[a] that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess[b] to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Do Not Cause Another to Stumble Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” Here Paul is talking about a mixing of cultures inside of the Gentiles and the Jews, and how some cultures (the Jewish culture) emphasized the law and desired to hold their new Gentile believers to the same standard that the Jews were held. Paul’s point here, is not whether or not one should do, or should not do, any certain thing, but rather the judgment that comes with the mixing of two different points of view. Often times we emphasis our culture to a level that is unhealthy, or sinful, we have a certain set of beliefs that we judge others who do not hold those same beliefs. As ballplayers, how do we uphold our culture (I still don’t want someone else’s hand in my glove), while allowing grace and mercy to flow out of us to love those who are outside our comfort zone? How can we exhibit grace, mercy, and love to the freshman who is coming into a new culture, to other coaches who coach differently or have a different standard for their teams, to the umpires who screw everything up? How can we be a culture, a baseball culture as a whole, that accepts the outsider, exhibits grace to others, and draws those from outside the circle in to know the one true God. This itself is the Gospel, Jesus ran with sinners and tax collectors, Jesus spent his time outside of the cultural “inner circle” in order to draw those who were far off. This is our call as well!