“For me, putting on the Yankee uniform every day is a process full of rapture. You hear guys who get traded to, or sign with, the Yankees talk about how great it feels to be putting on the pinstripes. For me, the thrill never wears off. It is about the history of the uniform, the dignity and the championships, the way it stands for something enduring, for excellence. Maybe it’s because I am from a fishing village that is one stop from the end of the earth that wearing a Yankee uniform means so much. I just know I never take it for granted, for even one day. It’s so easy to get caught up in the problems and complications and sadness that life can confront us with, but by opening my heart to the LORD, I am filled with lightness, with appreciation for the gift He has given me, with the ability to pay attention to what is good and not what is not good.And when I am getting changed into my Yankee uniform, it is all good.” – Mariano Rivera, The Closer
Mariano Rivera is the all time saves leader, in the history of baseball. He spent his entire career with the New York Yankees. Recently I read his book and I keep coming back to this quote. In an era of free agency, most players don’t stick with the same team their entire career. That’s unique. In an era of self-aggrandizement, most people consider themselves bigger than the team. Yet, the all time saves leader, who was an incredible pitcher, has this humble pride in being a part of a team with a rich history.
We’re told pride comes before a fall throughout Proverbs, but there’s something attractive and humble about this pride Mariano has as a Yankee. As I’ve considered this quote, I’ve wondered, what about us? We are The Church, the Bride of Christ and much of what goes wrong in our world could be resolved if those around us knew our Savior. If they knew how much they’re loved by the One who made all things.
Often we’re quiet, keeping our faith to ourselves, for the sake of tolerance. People in The Church have done things, which cause Christians to be looked down upon. One Barna survey indicated people see Christians as judgmental, homophobic and hypocritical. That’s not what it means to follow Jesus. I can’t imagine Mariano has always been thrilled with things his teammates have done, but he still has a great deal of pride and joy to be a Yankee.
In the same way, you and I have been called out of darkness and given new life by what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. That’s a true reality.
“This means anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
By coming to us, He has made us His and a part of His Church. We’re able to share this Good News with others.
“God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
Rather than being fearful we might offend, I think we need a sense of Mariano’s humble pride. Not in any way of being better, or smarter, or privileged, but in humility to offer what we have been so graciously granted by our Father.
How many people would benefit by knowing God loves them, and wants to know them, and is no longer counting their sins against them? When we see friends or family struggling outside of faith, we get to share the truth of His great love with them.
God isn’t who culture says He is, He is so much greater. He is their Father, and He desires to heal any hurt, pain or brokenness in them. That’s a message I want to share and I’m grateful to be on His team. I think we need to be confident in what God has done in us, and what He is able to do in those around us.