Friday, December 14, 2007

Baseball, Idolatry, and a reluctant Prophet

So in my mind I made the connection between Roger Clemens and Old Testament literature. This is the progression of thought…

Yesterday the Mitchell Report came out, listing names of MLB players connected with the abuse of substances (HGH and Steroids). This just further makes me skeptical of professional athletes. Growing up I loved baseball. Soccer was always my favorite sport but baseball was right next to it. Each summer I looked forward to going to Pittsburgh to root for the hapless Pirates. Even though they haven’t had a winning season in 15 years, yeah 15 years, I’m still devoted.

But the cheating has started to ruin the beloved pastime. What is even more disappointing is the failure/inability to enforce any punishments because the player union. Enough said about that.

How does this connect with Jeremiah? While reading Jeremiah 10, I was pondering what are the idols in my life, and in our specific Western culture?

It is a common assertion that movies stars, celebrities, and athletes have achieved a form of idolatry in America. Professional sports have become the opiate of the people, and chief among these worshiped individuals are baseball players. I am too aware that professional sports have merged from game to entertainment. From the love of sport to the love of money. Sports are the sacred and elevated to an unhealthy point.

Idols serve a purpose, albeit a frivolous one. But they do serve a purpose for the time being. Jeremiah uses the analogy of a scarecrow (10:5). A scarecrow serves a purpose, it has a utilitarian nature. Sports serve a purpose, they have a utilitarian nature. But that isn’t what makes them idols….

Jeremiah 10:11 reads, “These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”

Using Jeremiah’s train of thought, an idol is temporary and ungodly. Idols are fleeting and have no eternal nature. They hold some power but in comparison to God, their utility is meager. So God is to be worshiped because God is all-powerful and eternal. But what also marks an idol is the way it pales in comparison to the standard of God. It is a character issue.

Part of God’s omnipotence and righteousness is God’s character. God is righteous, just, pure, holy, good. Idols are not. They fail to hold any power to redeem humanity. We worship God because the entirety of God’s character. Yes, God has more power than all idols, but that power is just another beautiful element of God’s wholeness.

Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, Lenny Dykstra, Miguel Tejada, all the other MLB players…what is their character? When we look at what we elevate in our life we must ask about the character, the integrity, the fidelity, of our time, worship, and attention.

The only thing worth all that is God.

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