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Thinking of God with Larry Sheehy

Let’s break down some walls

    Even if you’re just a casual sports fan, you may recall the incident during the 1996 baseball season when Baltimore’s Roberto Alomar, enraged at the umpire’s call of “strike three,” intentionally spat in the ump’s face! Few actions have caused more uproar in any sport. His five-game suspension was little more than a slap on the wrist in the assessment of many fans. But that was the least of it. The shunning of Alomar by many, and his own self-condemnation, made life a nightmare  For months the feelings between him and the umpire remained sour.  
    But during the 1999 season, a strange thing happened.  Something caused the game official, John Hirschbeck, to become curious about what sort of person Alomar really was, and he expressed his desire to know to a mutual friend.  When told that he was a really nice person (not everyone’s view), Hirschbeck was moved to approach the ballplayer to see if they could work out their differences.  After a long talk, they “decided to let go of the past.”  Not only are they become good friends, they expressed their reconciliation in very public ways.
    Why are things like this possible? Discussing his support of a Hirschbeck foundation to fight a rare disease that had claimed the umpire’s son, Alomar expressed his own feelings: “I want people to know that I care about people, especially kids. That’s what it’s all about.  We’re not here to hold grudges, we’re here to help people.”
    Isn’t this what being a human being is supposed to involve - helping meet the needs of others, and bringing glory to God? Isn’t that why Jesus came into the world, forgetting about himself and submitting to death that others might live?  (Philippians 2:5-8)  Isn’t the desired result of that act by the Son of God exemplified in what happened in the     Alomar-Hirschbeck story? It’s so easy to apply Paul’s words in the Ephesian letter here: “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility....”  (Ephesians 2:14)
    I’m fully aware that the immediate context of Paul’s words is the first-century war between Jews and Gentiles.  But it is equally relevant to the “barriers” and “walls of hostility” that threatens to divide each of us from someone else in our world.  
    I have no idea if John Hirschbeck approached Roberto Alomar because of the intent of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. But there can be no doubt that the power of that singular act continues to affect the actions of men and women everywhere. The two men of baseball can teach us a very important lesson. We are made in the image of God, designed by him for grand and glorious things. And whenever and wherever men reflect his nature, the Father’s person and work is glorified.
    QUESTION:  Which of these two men reflected the spirit of Christ by their actions? ANSWER:  Both. ADMONITION:  “Go and do likewise.”  (Luke 10:37)

    Larry Sheehy is the preaching minister at Statesboro Church of Christ. He can be reached at (912) 764-5269 or sborococ@frontiernet.net

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