PINCH HITTING CHRISTIANS
I speak the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit, I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Romans 9:1-4a
One of the most interesting rules in baseball or softball is the pinch hitter/runner rule. This gives an opportunity for a coach in a certain situation to place another person that may give them an advantage into the game at a moments notice. The player will either go in and run or hit for the other player and then their game is done. For the rest of the game, unless they substitute for that player, they can no longer impact the outcome of the game. In other words, they are a one and done player that must be ready at the drop of a hat to come in and perform. I say that today, because I know a player that is playing in the major leagues for the Braves that that is his role. To be ready at any point and time to enter the game and make an immediate impact. I can only imagine that the mental and physical training they have to endure to be able to flip the switch and perform automatically is gut wrenching at times, but that is also a way that God has equipped them and prepared them to step into the battle.
Saying that, I wonder what it would be like to have a pinch Christian in our lives. I know it sounds crazy, but what would it be like to have someone step in for us in those times when we are struggling to come up with the right discernment or step in for us to help us know what to say or do in a moments notice that could help someone come to know Christ. And please hear me, I am not trying to make this point flippantly. I am trying to help us to see
what it would honestly be like to watch someone who is ready to step into the world for us and make an immediate impact for Christ. In the same way as the athlete, they too would have to really be focused and prepared to enter at any moment. They would have to be mentally strong and ready to defend the faith or immediately distribute grace and mercy. The pinch Christian would have to be fully confident through Christ and ready to endure the hardships of others as they are still trying to figure it all out. Would we be willing to allow someone else to come in and receive our punishment and walk in our place so that we would not lead others astray? Are we willing to admit that we need help and cannot make it on our own and maybe someone else is capable of stepping in and doing a better job in the moments where we are anxious, afraid and uncertain. If you have not picked up on it yet, I just want to say that we have had someone that has done that for us. Someone that was willing to face it all and never doubt or turn in fear. We have someone that stepped into the sin filled world and was a willing to step into the battle at a moment's notice to show us how to live our lives and how to follow God's call. Who was that person? Jesus
As we read Paul's letter to the people of Rome, we are able to see Paul's anguish and desire to help others in their struggles. Paul desperately wishes to take on their curse in hopes of them realizing the grace that God has ready to give to them. Paul so wants to get into the game and step into the moment and take away all of the struggles and uncertainty. Why? Because Paul has already had an encounter with the ONE that stepped in and pinch hit for him. Paul was able to finally see what it took to prepare himself for the battle that he would step in for the sake of the Gospel. It took God stepping into his life and showing him the way before Paul could begin preparing to do the same for others. For all of us who have experienced this gift from God, we should have this anguish and burden for others as well. We should have a desire to say that we want to step into their battle and teach them how to overcome whatever situation they may be facing. We are not asking to take over for them, but just like a pinch hitter/runner, we only come in for the specific purpose that the COACH/GOD needs us to play in their lives. It may be an encouragers like Barnabas was for Paul or it may be like a teacher like Jesus did for the disciples and for us. Jesus did not come into the world to take over their lives, but to play a specific role in preparing for the next stage of their lives. God is calling us to step in and make an impact and then realize that for the rest of the game/their life, we are threr to support them from the bench in any way we can.
As we go through our day this week, I hope and pray that we are all thankful for Jesus stepping in and playing such an important role in our lives and for the world. We are able to see that HE stepped into the moment and received the product of our so that we could be
free to go and help others receive the same grace, love and mercy. Who in this world or in your life are you ready to pinch hit for when they really need someone to step in? Who are the people that have stepped in and pinch hit for you? Just like with Jesus, we are able to teach the truth and through that truth people are set free from their wage of death that is owed. I am thankful that Jesus stepped in and took the shame and death that I deserve, and I pray that every day I have the opportunity to do the same for others. I pray that I have the ability to help equip others to be ready to step in a moments notice to defend the Gospel and to allow the world to be transformed one person at a time. I have been preparing for this role my whole life... so that when God calls me to step in, I will be ready without any hesitation. May be live our lives out loud in the same way, so that others will pay it forward. It starts with one willing heart that can lead to an army willing to die for the Cross. Are you ready to step into the game today?