For Love of the Game - Quest for Perfection
by Justin Dillard
The feedback from our "At the Movies" series and the coinciding CG Podcast has led us on a path to continue this exploration of the spiritual lessons we can learn from our favorite baseball movies. Enjoy this month's focus on For Love of the Game!
“Billy Chapel, in quest of the perfect game. You also realize he may very well be at the crossroads of a brilliant career. He's a cinch to wind up in the Hall of Fame. However, after this game, he has to make the big decision. Will he continue to do what has been his life, maybe more important than life itself, baseball? Or will he hang it up, and would a perfect game... give him the logical conclusion to the great career?”
“And, you know, Steve, you get the feeling that Billy Chapel… isn't pitching against left-handers. He isn't pitching against pinch hitters. He isn't pitching against the Yankees. He's pitching against time. He's pitching against the future, against age... and, even when you think about his career, against ending. And tonight, I think he might be able to use that aching old arm one more time...to push the sun back up in the sky... and give us one more day of summer.”
As the great Vin Scully so eloquently put it, Billy Chapel was pitching against time in his quest for the Perfect Game. We all are. In a 19-year storied career, Billy showed greatness over time, but he had never reached Perfection. Few in the game have. In fact, over the 140 years of Major League Baseball history and over 210,000 games played, there have been 23 official Perfect Games by the current definition. No pitcher has ever thrown more than one. As rare and special that is over 140 years, there have been fewer in the history of the world to attain perfection in faith. You can count that number with one finger.
If there has only been one human to live a perfect life in the history of the world, is it even important for us to consider?
“…you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” -Matthew 5:48
So the paradox of all creation is that perfection is the expectation, but none of us can do it. In God’s eyes, righteousness (or right standing in His eyes according the Law he gave us through Moses) is the only acceptable form of perfection.
I believe perfection in God’s eyes looks more like the picture on the left than the picture on the right. The picture on the right is Felix Hernandez after striking out the last batter to complete his perfect game.
Galatians 2:21 says, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” If we could attain perfection on our own ability, we would have no need for a Savior through Jesus Christ.
That’s where we receive comfort when Paul points us to the picture on the left in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
The picture on the left is kid named Brody wearing the jersey of his favorite player on the Rochester Ridgemen, Ethan Luna (aka Big Tuna). Perfection isn’t something we earn, it’s something Jesus gives to us. Then the rest of our lives we are growing into that righteousness.
In your pursuit of perfection in righteousness, you’re not pitching against sin. You’re not pitching against accomplishment. You’re not pitching to earn righteousness. You’re aiming for perfection through righteousness given to us by the one perfect God.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:6