My wife and I took 36 hours this week to take in a couple of ballgames in Miami. Our Dodgers were playing the Marlins. Yes, we’re big fans. I enjoy everything about seeing a live baseball game. On this occasion, one thing in particular caught my attention. I asked myself, “Hmm, I wonder what happens to the scuffed baseballs when they are throw out of the game by the Ump?” So, I decided to follow where the ball finally rested. Our seats allowed me to view inside the Marlin’s dugout (I know, I should be paying attention to the game, but this too, is part of the whole live game experience for me). And this is what I learned; the ball ends up in the hands of a man, seated deep in the corner of the dugout who cleans them in order to put them back into play (at least the ones that aren’t scuffed beyond a good cleaning). Most people would see his job as a lowly and menial. But I’m certain he’s thinking, “What if this is the game winning ball – a walk off home run, the final strikeout or game ending double-play ball. Or what if this is the ball used to cap off the no-hitter?” Greatness could very well be in the hands of this man who cleans these baseballs for someone else to excel in and display. In a very significant way, he gets to be part of someone’s potentially great moment.
Everyone wants to be great. That doesn’t mean that everyone wants to be rich, famous, or be recognized for greatness, but deep in the heart, beneath whatever wounds and resignation may obscure their true desires, everyone wants to accomplish something significant and do life well. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that longing. In Matthew 20 when James, John, and their mother asked for a privileged position in God’s Kingdom, Jesus didn’t rebuke them for the desire to be great. He simply corrected their perception of how to make it happen.
“Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.” (Matthew 20:26)
One of the paradoxes of The Kingdom of God is that the way up is down. If you want to be great, you need to get low and become a servant. That’s what Jesus did, leaving His privileged position in glory and living among us as a human being destined to die. And as Jesus indicated on more than one occasion, His followers are to be like Him. If we’re trying to work our way up the ladder to greatness while claiming to follow The One who descended from heaven to wash our feet, we’re contradicting ourselves. Following Jesus means adopting the same attributes and heeding His words. We take on the character of The One who is exalted over all because He emptied Himself of glory and died.
That’s the path to greatness, and it’s a shocking paradox. Not many in the world can accept that the way up is down, although some might concede the point if you redefine greatness as a matter of principle. But Jesus, both by words and example, made it clear that His way to greatness doesn’t lead only to the admiration of others; it leads to the actual, meaningful exaltation and glory in God’s Kingdom. This isn’t something we have to do but rather something we get to do. It’s A Stunning Opportunity. We aren’t simply acquiring a great character trait; we’re acquiring a greater position in The Kingdom governance. The more we serve, the more God elevates us in the social structure of His realm. And no form of upward mobility is greater than that.
By the way, the Marlins beats our Dodgers with a walk-off homerun in the 9th inning that night. The player who hit the tar-off-the-ball was celebrated by his teammates and his fans for his greatness. And I’m pretty sure, the ball hit into orbit was just cleaned by the man no one ever notices, well, almost no one. One day, The One who notices all things will say to us who serve Him behind the scenes, “Bravo! Well done! Well, well done!”
Have a great weekend. Make it better by worshiping The Lord with those who love serving The King because there is no one greater and more worthy.
All For Jesus – Nothing More, Nothing Less, Nothing Else.
“He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, The King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see, to Him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:15b-16)