Back on May 13, my team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (hereafter known more simply as just the Angels) started their new phenom from Japan, Shohei Ohtani, against the Minnesota Twins. A marvelous outing, 6.1 innings pitched, just 3 hits and 1 earned run yielded, only 2 walks more than balanced by 11 strikeouts. Then at the top of the 9th in a tie game, the Twins loaded the bases with 2 outs. Blake Parker strolled in from the bullpen, threw one pitch, a strike, to end the threat.
In the bottom of that inning, Zak Cozart, their new 3rd baseman, slammed a walk-off homerun to win the game for the Angels. So who was the best Angels pitcher? Ohtani, who threw 103 pitches with 69 strikes, or Parker who threw 1 pitch? Well, Parker got the win. With 1 pitch.
Baseball’s heart throbs with competition. MVP, Cy Young, World Series. But probe below the surface, because cooperation between team members, complementing one another, and wise managing that puts each the area of their strength, provides the foundation for winning baseball. Cooperation within the team, competition without.
And perhaps that gives us a metaphor for the church, because we compete with each other. Too often. True confession, I envy those with musical talent. When I served as a pastor, those with larger churches were the target. We want our church to meet our needs in the way we want, so we compete for power to get our way. In a town nearby, two churches split over the color of carpeting in the Fellowship Hall. Come on! Let’s learn from the Angels.
Cooperation within. A recognition of our designed diversity. Some starting pitchers. Some relievers. Some 3rd basement, some shortstops. Some hitters. All with different gifts, all important. Please read the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 12, but here’s a verse or three that expresses this importance, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ…there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 25. 26).
Fitting together. Complementing one another. And doing this so we can win in the spiritual battle, the real competition, where we strive to beat the devil. In our lives. In the world. Like the Angels. Like the angels.
Kick Starting the Application
Think a bit, in what ways do you tend to compete with fellow followers of Jesus? Does that help or hurt your walk with Jesus? Your serving him? Try to think of several ways you can enhance cooperation in your spiritual realm. Will you try one this week?