As a former Major League pitcher, I’ve had the privilege of speaking to many players, teams, coaches, and fans about my story. Recently I was asked to speak to a group of Major League umpires and then to the Marlins and Giants Chapel.
When I go in to speak to these men, I don’t know if they’ll want me to share my story, share a word from the Bible, or simply pray for them, but I always count it an absolute honor to do so. It’s not something I take lightly. Having been a player myself, I know the clubhouse is sacred ground. It’s not a right of passage I’ve gained to come back to, it’s an absolute privilege and honor. Even more so, it’s an honor to share what Christ has done in my life.
This week’s theme in Bible Chapel was “God Cares for You.” It was great to be able to share with these young men what God has done in my life throughout the last six years—how’s He’s changed my perspective and given me a whole new peace and identity in Him. I shared with them that the only way I’ve been able to gain peace is by understanding who I am in Christ. By reminding these men just how much God really does care for them, I too was able to relive the amazement of the gift He’s given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Anytime I’m given 15 minutes to talk to a group of men, or an individual, I want them to know just how much God cares for them. Having this great privilege and responsibility to share God’s truth, I don’t want to mess it up. Our understanding of God’s Word is so critical; it shapes how we view ourselves, our lives, and our reality. What Jesus has done for us is so overwhelming. I want my whole life to reflect this truth! I don’t want only to occasionally celebrate the new life I’ve been given in Christ, I want to live it out every day.
It can be difficult to speak to a group of individuals whose whole lives have been built around performance. Speaking to them the Gospel of Christ—which has nothing to do with our own performance—can be extremely challenging. It’s absolutely necessary for them to understanding the message of “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.” We don’t have to perform to earn God’s favor and love. We are already loved, accepted, and forgiven, and it is from this place of acceptance that we walk in fellowship with God. Performance is about fulfilling the law, which was given to us to reveal that we can’t keep it on our own. Christ dealt with the law on the cross, setting us free from the power of sin that enslaves us. The grace and love of Christ is not based on performance, it’s freely offered by God through the gift of His Son. We simply have to respond to the grace and freedom He offers. Responding to the love He first gave us allows us to love Him back!
We cannot earn salvation by striving to be as good as we can in order to please God. That’s not what the Gospel teaches. Once we’ve accepted the free gift of salvation from Jesus Christ, we are called to worship God with lives that please Him and the most important thing you can do to please God is to trust Him. That’s what He most wants from us. When you draw near to God and trust in Him, you will want to read more Scripture, pray more, fellowship more, and worship Him more. The Holy Spirit, whom He’s placed inside of us, will work in and through us to transform our character.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such thing there is no law.” —Galatians 5:22-23
Do you know you have the power to live out these truths every day of your life? You can’t do this on your own, but the Holy Spirit enables you to live out these virtues! We’re not perfect, and we will all sin. But that’s the beauty of what Christ has done on the cross. He’s paid the costly price for all of it! We don’t need to be ashamed, we simply need to confess our sins, without hiding behind our faults, and live in the freedom and grace He extends to us.
Dave Dravecky is a former MLB pitcher and a regular contributor to The Increase and will be providing monthly articles and opinions.