Postseason baseball often gets me thinking about miracles. Maybe it’s been the recent history of the 2004 Red Sox coming back from an 3-0 deficit, something that had never been done before. Maybe it was Tuesday night when the Cubs came back in the top of the ninth down three runs, an event that tied a previous record. These improbable events give all of us the opportunity to ask this - how did Jesus use miracles when he coached people? My perspective on Christ’s miracles has been largely shaped by author Philip Yancey. Yancey presents compelling ideas around why the miracles were never meant to be the end, and that Jesus had a greater understanding of how miracles would affect those who experienced them. Jesus would often ask people to not tell anyone about the miracles. He knew miracles may cause people to look for a magic show for entertainment. Jesus knew that the more spectacular the miracle, the more distance he could create between him and the people he was hoping to save. I hadn’t considered these points until reading Yancey, specifically in The Jesus I Never Knew.
Interesting that those moments in sports have the opposite effect, isn’t it? When we see something amazing in sports, we turn to one another and say, “Did you see that?!?!” Miracles on the sports field create a shared experience and intimacy where Christ’s created distance for some. What’s the difference? Sports are entertainment and faith is a real experience that is meant to be experienced by all. In this time of year especially, it’s up to us to maintain the connection between the spiritual and the sport. There’s no such thing as secular and spiritual. Everything is spiritual.
Yancey says, “Jesus never met a disease he could not cure, a birth defect he could not reverse, a demon he could not exorcize. But he did meet skeptics he could not convince and sinners he could not convert.” Jesus never met a situation on the baseball field that he couldn’t affect either. Only through our work in being a voice in the wilderness of the game of baseball can we see the spiritual miracles that excite Jesus and cause celebration in heaven. As we cheer on these teams in the postseason, let’s look around to connect people to the spiritual that always surrounds us.