The Monday feature of the Worldly Saints blog focuses on a story from the sports world – current or historic. The point is to recognize athletes who are using their sports and athletic abilities to further the kingdom of God or to show how some athletes are wasting their days by not giving God the glory.
One win away. That is what stands between the San Francisco Giants and a 3rd World Series title in five years. That has not been accomplished since the St. Louis Cardinals did it in the 1940’s. What a night Tuesday night (Game 6) could be or – if you are Kansas City Royals fan – how much better Game 7 on Wednesday night might become.
Either way, if you are watching the World Series, you have to be excited about what you have seen so far: diving catches in the outfield, shutout pitching, clutch hits, managerial genius, etc. It has been an exciting display of baseball at it’s finest.
And while some people will watch the World Series because it is the championship and finale of a professional sports league, many of these same people won’t watch the regular season. Many sports fans find baseball hard to watch because it is slow, not many points are scored, plays and rallies take a while to develop.
I am sure I have said this before on my blog, but I will say it again. I love the slow pace of baseball that produces a winning result, because it is one of the best images we have in sports of how sanctification works. And like baseball, sanctification can be hard to watch as well because it takes so much time.
Sanctification is a slow process. If it weren’t, at the moment of our conversion, God would bring upon a complete Christlikeness, but He doesn’t. Our saved life is a journey towards Christlikeness that involves progression that is slow – at best – at times. Progression can be taking three steps forwards and two steps back, but it is still progression. Theologians calls this progressive sanctification.
When you think of sanctification, you have to be patient. Fruit-bearing does not happen overnight. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
Sanctification – like baseball – takes time. But sanctification – unlike baseball – has a reward that is incomparable. When you achieve the highest honor in the game of baseball, you receive a banner at your stadium, championship rings for your players and you are recorded into the annals of baseball history. When you achieve the highest honor in sanctification, you become like your Creator! J.C. Ryle wrote in his magnum opus Holiness:
“Heaven is essentially a holy place; its inhabitants are all holy; its occupations are all holy. To be really happy in heaven, it is clear and plain that we must be somewhat trained and made ready for heaven while we are on earth … we must be saints before we die, if we are to be saints afterwards in glory.”
To borrow the words from the famous hymn, it’s permissible and expected to “take time to be holy.” And it is SO worth it!