Those who know me well know I am a huge fan of baseball. When the season starts in April, I activate the MLB app on my phone and I am checking out stats, getting updates and watching my team play as much as I can.
My team is the Toronto Blue Jays. I have been a fan for many years, and I have a deep love for the only Canadian baseball team. I grew up watching baseball with my dad, and a decade of living in Toronto solidified my support of the Jays. I often laugh about how while most young girls in the early 90s had posters of New Kids on the Block on their bedroom walls, I had posters of Joe Carter. He was my pre-teen celebrity crush.
Yesterday I was watching my Jays as they began a series in Texas against the Rangers. The Jays and the Rangers have a history with some animosity; there was the infamous bat flip of Jose Bautista, and of course the physical altercation between Bautista and the Rangers’ Rougned Odor.
Rangers fans remain quite hostile toward Bautista, and as usual, he was greeted with “boos” each time he stepped into the batter’s box last night.
As the boos rained down from the surrounding stands, the Blue Jay commentators joked that they shouldn’t waste their time with the boos because that makes Jose a better hitter. The hostility actually works against the Rangers fans because it pumps Bautista up; he has the tendency to rise above it, take the challenge and show ’em what he can do. And he did that again last night with a home run.
Personally, I don’t think it’s right to ever boo someone. It’s ok to cheer for whoever you choose, but there is no need to openly put someone down through booing. I understand it is a way for fans at sporting events to express their disapproval, but I can’t support booing an individual simply because you don’t like him (or her).
As I was waiting for a staff meeting to start today, I was thinking about my dislike of “booing”, and of how Jose Bautista responded in a positive way to a negative action. Those thoughts led me to think about Jesus and how he would respond when his enemies would “boo” him.
In the times of Jesus, the Pharisees were not “fans” of him despite his many followers. They talked behind his back, they tried to trick him and trap him with certain questions. They mocked him and plotted against him. They turned others against him.
The Pharisees were “booing” Jesus. They didn’t like him. And they tried everything they could to “throw him off of his game”.
Yet, every time the Pharisees tried to beat him, Jesus came back swinging. He stood stronger. He hit the ball harder. He refused to back down.
He continued his ministry day after day, never losing sight of his position.
They tried to strike him out. They tried to shut him down. They tried to tell him the “rules”. But he wasn’t interested in playing their game.
Jesus had a much more important mission. And he never lost focus. He never took his eye off the ball.
Jesus hit home run after home run despite the boos of those around him. He didn’t get upset over the cheaters. He didn’t give in to the liars.
Jesus played his own game.
His game was a game of love, passion, grace, mercy and peace. He was leading people to the greatest win imaginable.
And just when it looked like his opponents had taken the lead, when it looked like the game was lost, Jesus hit the ultimate grand slam.
He won the game for all of us.
He showed us we can win in love. We can hit a home run despite those who are booing us.
Because He did it first.
He loved first.