Friday, January 10, 2014

Guilty by Association

This week, professional baseball announced its yearly inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. The announcement was special because several deserving players were eligible to be on the ballot for the first time. Among them was Greg Maddux, undoubtedly one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. Maddux won 355 career games and four Cy Young Awards, the honor given to the top pitcher in each league. He played 23 seasons and many people believed he might be the first living player to receive 100% of the vote to enter the Hall of Fame. When the Wednesday announcement came, Maddux did not receive the unanimous vote. Six voters of the 200 baseball writers and journalists that are allowed to vote did not vote for Maddux. While the writers in question may have had different reasons for their refusing to vote for Maddux, one of them gave this reason.  He said he refused to vote for Maddux because he would not vote for anyone who played from primarily from 1990-2010 when steroids were prevalent in baseball. This writer wants to make a statement and effectively eliminate a whole generation from the Hall of Fame. The result is that, although Maddux was never suspected of any wrongdoing, he was punished just for playing at the same time as those who may have cheated.

Sometimes in life we are declared “guilty by association.” Because of the people we choose to be around or because of the family into which we are born, people form an impression of us that may be far from the truth. While we should always be careful to not engage in wrongdoing, we must also remember that Jesus was often “guilty by association.” Jesus had relationships with the very people that His society shunned. He went to weddings and feasts with undesirable characters. He dined with tax collectors and prostitutes and called working class men to be His disciples. He allowed a sinful woman to embrace Him while He sat eating in the house of a religious leader. His choice of friends didn’t make sense to the religious leaders of His day. Jesus told them (Mark 2:17),

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

 Many of the people in Jesus' day thought they were doing fine. They thought they had no need of a Savior or even a moral Teacher. They saw Jesus as a rebel and an danger to the established order. Many other people, however, knew that they needed to find peace and forgiveness, and Jesus became a symbol of hope to them.  As we look to live for Jesus, let us seek out those people around us who are lost and hurting. Let us not be afraid of criticism when we choose to live among the lowly and the outcasts. Let us be a comfort and a support to them and to one another. When we do this, we are becoming more and more like Jesus.

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