What a World Series! For those who survived the heart-pounding dual between Cleveland and Chicago, here are 5 absolutely awesome justice lessons I learned from the Cubs!
The Cubs ended a 108-year drought late Wednesday night. 108 years of always saying – “wait until next year.” Perhaps no team in baseball better represents persistent hope. How can one remain faithful to a team that lost 107 years in a row!
The Cubs are a beautiful example of the best of America. We refuse to quit. We persevere, believing tomorrow will be better than yesterday. At a time when our national discussion and politics are so divisive, this is a powerful reminder. No matter what happens next week in elections, let’s follow the example of the Cubs to persevere believing better days are ahead.
On a more personal level the perseverance of the Cubs is like the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18. Here was a woman who from outward appearances had no reason to hope. She had no power or ability to affect her circumstances. Yet she refused to give up. She pressed her cause before an unjust judge until she received justice. (Luke 18:1-8).
Justice requires perseverance.
Justice requires that we not give up hope even in the face of challenging circumstances. If you know a Cubs fan then you know they are incredibly hopeful people.
Jesus told the story of the persistent widow as a demonstration of the power of persevering prayer. When hope seems lost, cry out to the perfect Judge who promises to do what only He can do. Many people face enormous challenges of health, broken families, a wayward spouse or child. Maybe you have prayed for years without any change. Keep praying. Persevere.
That is a beautiful lesson learned from the Cubs.
Closely related, but distinct, is grit. Never quit. The Cubs were down 3 games to 1 in the series. The odds of winning the last three games in a row were statistically slim. But the Cubs demonstrated true grit. They never gave up.
The secret was simple. All the players said the same. It was never about three games, but about one. They focused on the one game before them.
Our justice ministries help focus a person on one day at a time. We help establish plans that are about the one next step. Injustice can be overwhelming. The odds seem impossible. But breaking it down to one action at a time makes it possible to focus and press on. To dig in, dig down, and focus.
Our faith is the same. Many people struggle with overcoming sin. They look at someone super spiritual and grow defeated believing they can never achieve such a state. We need to help people take one step at a time. To understand the power of grit. The power of the Holy Spirit. Victory comes from daily picking up our cross and following Jesus. (Lk. 9:23). It is a daily battle, won one day at a time. We do well to focus on each day’s challenge and celebrate each day’s victory.
Justice work is the same. Long days. Great challenges. Justice requires focus and grit. That is an absolutely awesome justice lesson – thanks Cubs!
3. Who’s in charge?
Come on – admit it. You were yelling at the TV when the manager made those pitching changes. How could he? After all, we are much better general managers sitting comfortably in our seats. I did it to. But the truth is the call was not ours to make.
In the game of life, God is in charge. He is the manager. He makes the calls. A lot of times we don’t like those calls and we rail against Him. We don’t understand what He is doing and we think we know best. But He is carrying out His playbook – the Bible. We have to trust Him. He knows what He is doing even when it doesn’t look that way to us.
Justice work requires dependency on the one in charge. We will not bring about justice individually or systemically on our own. But God’s playbook is all about justice for the poor and He is advancing that playbook to the end of establishing perfect justice upon the earth in His Kingdom. We do well to be about that work and trust His voice through His word.
One of my favorite stories from the World Series comes from game 6. Karen Michel wasn’t anybody special. She was simply a Cubs fan. She traveled to Cleveland in hopes of securing a ticket only to be told none were available. Then she saw Bill Murray. Bill is kinda well known. Heck he is a Ghostbuster. So when Bill gave Karen a ticket to a seat next to him, she was overwhelmed.
Gospel Justice is like that. When someone who sees themselves as unimportant because they lack resources is able to sit next to a lawyer who generously gives of their time and demonstrates true compassion, it is overwhelming. That demonstration of unmerited generosity powerfully points to the generous love of our Savior. He left Heaven to sit next to us and give his very life for us so we could forever sit with Him in heaven. What a generous God!
Justice is generous. For the Jew it was important to give time and resources to see the poor and vulnerable restored in community. This is why the Hebrew word for generosity is Tzedekah. That word is rooted in the Hebrew word for justice – Tzedek. The Bible does not separate generosity from justice. They are inseparable. We must be generous in advancing the cause of justice.
5. Community Celebration.
The Cubs brought people together. I love the story from game 7. When the Cubs blew their lead in the 8th inning and people worried this would not be the year, God sent a rain delay. I’m not going to say God supports particular teams, but the rain delay allowed Jason Heyward to rally the team. His speech helped them regain focus and the rest is history. Jason was not the hero on the field, but his encouragement made a world of difference.
Justice is like that. The challenge of injustice is great. Often it is unlikely heroes who enter into the moment to provide a word of encouragement that makes all the difference. Jason felt compelled to speak. We should likewise feel compelled to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” (Prov. 31:8).
The Cubs victory brought families and communities together.
In Chicago, several schools closed. My son Daniel joined millions of people in the Cubs parade and celebration. Families wept as they shared memories of fans who died before they could see this day.
I am one of those fans. My grandmother lived in Logan Square and Oak Park. She was a fan who never missed a game on the radio. She knew every player by name. Like true fans, she always held out hope for next year. My father grew up watching the Cubs. Their victory was made more significant because of the joy my sons knew their grandfather was experiencing.
Justice is like that. When a person is freed from a legal burden so they can flourish, we celebrate. When systems are changed and made more just, we celebrate. Above all we celebrate as a reflection of faith that celebrates when people are freed from sin and accept Christ as Savior. The Cubs celebration is a tiny reflection of the celebration in heaven when we engage in gospel justice work.
Go cubs go! And Jesus says to his people: “Go Christians go!” Enter into injustice with the light of Christ. Persevere. Demonstrate grit. Know who is in charge. Be generous. And celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit as we go and do justice together.