2 outs, bottom of the 9th, game 7 of the World Series. You could hear the St. Louis crowd, decked out in their Cardinal red, all the way in Kansas City. Busch stadium seemed as if it was about to burst at the seems as the whole year lead up to this moment. This was the center of the universe for baseball fans on that cool October night. Nothing else existed, yet to the rest of the world, this moment did not exist. But that didn’t matter, this was every Midwest boys’ day dream and night dream, yet for only a few would it materialize.
Despite the swirling and bursting world around him, the rookie sensation somehow had the ability to zone out the chaos. Thousands of little boys around their TVs across the country could see him exhale, tap his cleats with with his beautiful piece of lumber some factory in Louisville had carved into a baseball bat, and step back into the box. After going down 0-2 he had managed to work the count full. This was it. They were down a run with a runner on first who reached base on balls. The league’s best closer, who was on the mound, seemed to show an ever-so-slight chink in his armor.
The pitcher came set. Then came home. The rookie saw it. Fastball. Outside half of the plate, but he left it up too much. It looked juicy. The barrel of the bat thought so too. Swing. Crack. It felt good. The rookie looked up, dropped the bat as he began to run, the ball kept floating. Opposite field. He took the ball where the pitcher put it. The moment seemed to slow down, yet there was a collective yell that began to rise in volume as the ball continued to carry. Boom! Gone! “Can you believe it!?” shouts the radio broadcaster as the taped up whiffle ball landed on the other side of the neighbor’s chain link fence. The crowd goes insane and it’s a surprise no one falls out of the upper decks. But I guess they didn’t because this was just a dream; a dream that the young “rookie” continued to act out in his back yard. He yells with joy as he rounds the bases heading for a dog pile at home plate. After the dust settles he will be asked the most unoriginal question by the reporter, yet one he dreamed of being asked, “What does it feel like?” To which, he will answer, “Oh man, I can’t even put it into words, this is what every boy dreams of.” Which he can’t, and which they do.
Every kid has an imagination. Most use it to play with swords, or create worlds with legos, or something like that. I guess I don’t really know what they use it for. I was the boy above, using his imagination with a bat and a ball, creating a whole world and battle around me, that no one could see but me. If anyone was watching out of a window all they’d see is a little boy tossing a ball in the air and hitting it. If you were close enough you could see serious facial expressions and intense focus, as if the boy was in another world, and he was.
Humans were made to take dominion. We were made to fill the earth and subdue it. I believe that boys (and young men) in particular have an innate desire to do this, which looks a lot like adventure and conquest. We live on a planet that has been pretty much physically conquered. There’s no real new frontier of habitable land. I guess space exploration would be the next step. But I’m not quite sure how I feel about that to be honest. Nonetheless it’s quite impractical, at least for now.
Without new land to explore and conquer, this desire for dominion has most often in world history, and currently, come out in war. It’s nasty. It’s brutal. Most wars that have been and are being fought ought not to be fought.
One of the benefits that comes along with the Postmillennial hope is peace. Isaiah chapter 2 is one place that tells us that that time is coming (please go read). This of course will come about through gospel preaching. As the gospel is preached unto every creature and the nations are successfully discipled, war will be no more. God’s Word settles disputes between Christians. I believe we are of course a long long way from that time. Nevertheless I can’t help but think of what role sports will play in that time.
There are some Christians who see sports as worldly and therefore totally abstain. There are others who bow down at the altar of sports and offer up their children, wallets, and time as a sacrifice. The latter obviously betrays the one true God and has no place in a Postmillennial world. But I’d argue the former does too. Abstaining for lack of interest, ability, or inability to not bow down at its feet is perfectly acceptable. But for those who partake, I believe there’s a place for it.
I’m afraid that one reason our world has seen so many needless wars is because we just can’t get rid of that itch for adventure, battle, and conquest, and because we are sinners we scratch it with swords, bombs, missiles, and bullets.
But when the day comes when we learn war no more, where will we scratch that itch? I think there are an endless number of possibilities. None of which I’ll get into here, except the obvious. The ball field is the peace time battlefield. We’ve already seen it in many ways. While the United States has seen her fair share of war, and we’ve currently been at war going on 20 years now, we have known relative peace, at least in terms of our own homeland. The battles haven’t been fought on our turf. So while we’ve had troops abroad, there has been much peace at home. I believe that this is part of the reason why sports is so huge in America. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but there is no doubt that the sports industry in America is larger than at any other time or place in history. Generally, when you’re not throwing grenades, you’re throwing balls. We’ve even heard stories of soldiers in battle, pause from shooting one another to play ball with one another.
Sports is inherently the peace time battlefield. Rivals collide, champions are crowned, under dogs conquer, women are won, history is made, new records are set and broken, there is more sweat than blood spilled, and everyone goes home to their family.
If peace is coming, then why would sports go away? I think God likes watching sports. Seriously. Parents don’t hate watching their children play on the ball field.
The great Christian Olympic runner, Eric Liddell put it perfectly in my estimation when he said, “God made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”
I contend that the world would be a better place if we had less missile strikes and more strike 3’s. I also contend that sports would be a better world if we had less self-glorification and more God-glorification. And that day is coming. Eric Liddell showed us a little bit of what that would look like.
One of the essential aspects of our dominion mandate is the New Covenant expansion of it, in which we are to preach the gospel unto every creature, and disciple the nations. As we take dominion we do so for Christ. Christians have a small presence in sports, but we have yet to really disciple, baptize, and teach sports about Christ. What would it look like if Christians took dominion over sports? Other than rest from it on the Lord’s Day, we’ll have to take it to find out. Lets swing away for the glory and pleasure of God.
[…] But I am incredibly optimistic about the game of baseball. For more on that, I refer you to an article I wrote, quite some time ago now on the future of baseball: Click HERE to read about baseball’s future. […]