Being Out of Position
Each year during the final weeks when I spend time teaching the parish teens about our Christian Faith (in Confirmation Class), I try to come up with some (any!) innovative ways to explain what living the Gospel is like and what “sin” as rejection of grace means. (I have often secretly wished I could video those encounters so that parish adults could observe and hear for themselves what marks the lives of their adolescent sons and daughters, how they think, feel, and argue about the rightness or wrongness of specific actions, and what their personal level of Christian morality is like).
And this brings me to face the same question: so how does one, as a Christian, describe “sin” – as an act or attitude of failing to live into the love of God and love of neighbor mandated by Jesus? Allow me to use an example from yesteryear. I played baseball in my ill spent youth, and I can assure you that in no way I did give up a promising athletic career for the Lord’s service. I was merely a catcher blessed with extraordinarily mediocre abilities who had fun.
One particular late spring game where a high school actually worse than us was on our schedule, we were experiencing a rare blowout win – some absurdly unbelievable 23 – 2 lead with but one inning to play. Predating today’s “mercy rule” and having to finish this game, Coach decided to play everyone – and many of us got to pick a “different” position from where we normally played. For reasons I will never understand, I ended up playing at third base – never before and never since!). In that awful half inning, I managed to kick, miss, and or throw away just about anything hit at me. I even tripped over the bag and fell splat on my face.NEVER EVER AGAIN !
But here is the point. Do you want a working definition for “sin?” Try this: sin is playing out of the position that Jesus has placed us in!. It’s being where one should not be, and not using the tools/skills that God gives us as we should. It’s not seeing the field (life) from where we should. It is taking on too much, or at other times not doing enough.
God’s grace is open to all, but only we can open our hearts and souls to receive it. Thinking we can “do it all,” or are so important that one is above the need for improvement is another symptom. Holding others to standards that we do not hold ourselves to is still another. Seeking to learn and taking enjoyment in the flaws of the “other” is yet another.
In A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks uttered the unforgettable line: “There’s no crying in baseball.” But baseball does have its uses as a metaphor for life. And if I am honest with myself and with my God, I know that there have been more than enough times in my life that I put myself “out of position.” I’ve failed to live as my Lord and Master has shown me. There is reason for me to cry as I recognize my own flaws. How about you?