God Is Not an Umpire

John 3:22–30

It’s a rule in the game of baseball: three strikes and you’re out. Not having much knowledge of baseball (I’ve attended a number of games but prefer to watch the crowd and follow their lead), what I do know is that if the pitcher throws the baseball three times without the batter making contact with it (strikes), he or she is out. The opportunity to score points is over.

A lot of Christians think that if Jesus were a sports umpire, He’d operate a “one-strike and you’re out” policy. The Jesus they worship (and try to love) has a trembling finger poised over the smite button, just waiting for an excuse to judge them. He is never satisfied with our efforts, never delighted with our worship. Bluntly, He’s impossible to live with and terrifying to die with.

But as Jesus asked questions about John the Baptist, we see a different picture entirely. John was confused by Jesus. John was a firebrand and an isolated wilderness dweller; Jesus was a popular party guest who hung out with the wrong people. Like most of Israel, John anticipated a Messiah who would cast off the oppressive grip of the Romans—and Jesus didn’t deliver. And so, John thought that Jesus might not be the real Messiah.

Should he and his disciples look for someone else after all? Had John made a big mistake. But what did Jesus call him? A prophet. Jesus celebrated John as one of the greatest figures in the history of humanity, no less. As the “bridegroom’s friend,” John was literally a “best man.” Rather than being eager to condemn, Jesus was swift to commend.

Pray: Thank You for Your boundless, outrageous grace, Lord Jesus. Help me to live with a sense of Your kindness and care. Amen.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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