Clayton Kershaw has long been one of my favorite athletes. It was my privilege to interview him a few years ago as part of a fundraising event for a ministry we both support. He and his wife Ellen are two of the most godly, sincere, and kingdom-centered people you will ever meet. In addition, the longtime Los Angeles Dodger is a certain first-ballot Hall of Famer widely considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time.
Now he is in the news for a reason that is relevant if you follow Jesus, whether you follow baseball or not.
Clayton Kershaw’s statement and “the platform that Jesus has given us”
A few weeks ago, the Dodgers disinvited an LGBTQ charity called the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from their annual Pride Night Celebration. The advocacy group calls itself an “order of queer and trans nuns”; their motto is “go and sin some more.” Their Easter ceremony last month included “children’s programming followed by a drag show where adult performers dress[ed] in blasphemous imitation of Jesus and Mary.” They have also hosted “pub crawls mocking the Stations of the Cross and even the Eucharist.”
After an outcry from other LGBTQ advocacy groups, the Dodgers reversed their stance and reinvited the group. Clayton Kershaw disagreed with the decision and made a statement: “I don’t agree with making fun of other people’s religions,” he explained. “I just don’t think that, no matter what religion you are, you should make fun of somebody else’s religion.”
But rather than protesting the reversal, he approached the team about relaunching the club’s Christian Faith and Family Day. “I think we were always going to do Christian Faith Day this year, but I think the timing of our announcement was sped up,” he said.
Speaking for himself and his wife, he added: “For us, we felt like the best thing to do in response was, instead of maybe making a statement condemning or anything like that, would be just to instead try to show what we do support, as opposed to maybe what we don’t. And that was Jesus. So to make Christian Faith Day our response is what we felt like was the best decision.”
Speaking of Christian Faith Day, Clayton Kershaw noted in his statement, “It’s our opportunity to be able to kind of share our testimony of what we believe in and why we believe in it, and how that affects our performance on the field.” He added, “It’s a great opportunity to see the platform that Jesus has given us and how to use that for his glory and not ours.”
“The goal of the Christian life”
Yesterday we discussed ways to use our resources and influence in voicing our disagreement with unbiblical immorality. Today let’s consider the positive side of this cultural coin. As Clayton Kershaw said in his statement, we can “show what we do support, as opposed to maybe what we don’t. And that was Jesus.”
However, to lead those we influence to Jesus, they need to see Jesus in us.
Dr. Duane Brooks, the longtime senior pastor of Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston and a dear friend, wrote in a recent daily devotional: “The goal of the Christian life is to become like Jesus. We know we live in him as we begin to live as Jesus did.”
C. S. Lewis agreed, noting in Mere Christianity: “The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.”
Dr. Brooks added: “If [Jesus] has justified you, he wants to sanctify you. We are free from sin’s penalty. Through the Holy Spirit we are being set free from sin’s power. Someday, we will be free from sin’s presence. And all of this through Jesus.”
Three practical steps
Your goal and mine each day should be to be more like Jesus today than we were yesterday. How can this goal become a reality for us?
First, admit that we cannot become like Christ without the help of Christ.
Charles Spurgeon advised, “A little child, while learning to walk, always needs the [parent’s] aid. The ship left by the pilot drifts at once from her course. We cannot do without continued aid from above.” But this is hard for us to admit, which is why we must heed Spurgeon’s warning: “Those who think themselves secure are more exposed to danger than any others. The armor-bearer of sin is self-confidence.”
Second, ask the Holy Spirit every day to take control of our minds and lives (Ephesians 5:18) so we can be “conformed to the image of [God’s] Son” (Romans 8:29).
Tim Keller noted: “The gospel is that Jesus Christ came to earth, lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died.” Now the Holy Spirit will reproduce in us the “life we should have lived” as he continues the earthly ministry of Christ through the “body of Christ” (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:27).
Third, partner with the Spirit to manifest Christlikeness to the world.
William Booth counseled us to “work as if everything depended upon work and pray as if everything depended upon prayer.” He explained: “Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works, and then faith again, and then works again—until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.”
Without God “all things are permitted”
Let’s imagine a world where Christians are more like Christ than we are like the culture. Then let’s do all we can to create that world.
Paul observed that with God, all things are possible (Philippians 4:13). Fyodor Dostoyevsky, by contrast, noted that without God “all things are permitted.”
Which of these realities will you manifest today?