I’ve never claimed to be a big sports fan. I did enjoy football from 1978-1985 because I was on drill team in high school, and because Kevin played (and looked adorable in his uniform) in high school and college, and then, of course, I cheered my kids on in various sports, but nothing really beyond that. However, I LOVE sports-related movies. Kevin and I were talking about this yesterday, as we were headed to see the newly released “42,” the story of Jackie Robinson’s break of the racial barrier in professional baseball. For me, I decided, it comes down to the stories behind the players, and the inspiration they always provide. This movie was no exception.
For someone to excel at something, there is usually some measure of adversity. In Jackie’s case, that adversity involved intense persecution, the likes of which most of us have never experienced. The Brooklyn Dodgers Executive, Branch Rickey, resolved to bring a black player into the game and zeroed in on Robinson as the man he wanted. At the time, Robinson was known for his quick temper, and explosive personality. When Rickey spoke to Robinson about what he was proposing, he said this…
Your enemy will be out in force. But you cannot meet him on his own low ground.
Of course, Robinson was issued a challenge to not react as he had been, which would only prove him to be the uncontrollable, sub-human man they were trying to make him out to be, but to show himself as an upstanding man just as deserving to be there as anyone else, regardless of the color of their skin. He was, literally, asked to model himself after his Savior, and have the strength of character to withstand ’40 days in the desert’…to turn the other cheek.
While there are those of us still fighting racial injustice today, all around the world (God bless you and strengthen you), we are ALL fighting a common enemy. He employs all manner of ways to persecute us in our daily lives, whether it be people that taunt and ridicule, or circumstances that push you to the very brink. In my experience, God often allows this to go on to show us what can happen if we do what Jesus did and, with Him, take the high road. It’s not a road of cowardice by any means, but a spectacular display of courage when man allows himself to be infused with the incomparable strength of Christ.
The low road is really the coward’s way; it’s easy to persecute and provoke to make yourself feel bigger. But the high road…well, that’s a difficult climb and a long, tedious walk. Not easy at all, but it’s the game-changer, because it causes all the low roaders to look up. And, thankfully, if people start looking up, the world will never be the same.
Just ask Jackie Robinson. He accepted that challenge all those years ago, and he, like his Savior, indeed, changed the world.
“So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it …” Proverbs 2:20-21 ESV
“Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.” Psalm 25:19-21 ESV
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.” Matthew 5:39-40 NLT
P.S. Go see this movie! It’s terrific!