Baseball is my favorite sport, and it’s the last weekend of Major League Baseball’s regular season. All the playoff spots for the postseason haven’t been claimed yet, and that makes for a very exciting ending to the regular season. So, since I’m in a baseball mood, here’s a baseball illustration for you.
One day three umpires were sitting around talking. The first umpire said to the other two, “Fellows, there are balls and there are strikes, and I just call them the way I see them.” The second umpire replied, “Well, that’s alright for you, but I do a much better job than that; I don’t just call them the way I see them, I call them the way they are.” To that the third umpire ended the discussion by saying, “Guys, let’s be real. There are balls and there are strikes, but they are nothing until we say what they are.”
There are a lot of people these days who think they are playing the role of that third umpire. They think they can decide what is morally right. They think they can interpret scripture in a way that aligns with their own logic. They think they can dictate what is God’s will and what isn’t God’s will. In essence, they knock God off His rightful throne and claim it for themselves. This, of course, is the height of human arrogance.
Telecasts of Major League Baseball games now offer a fascinating feature. Immediately following any pitch a computerized “strike zone” box can be digitally imposed onto the area surrounding home plate. This box allows the viewer to see something the umpire can’t see: literal lines that represent the parameters of the strike zone. If a pitch sails past the batter and is within the lines of the computerized zone, the pitch should be called a strike. If it falls outside the lines of the zone, it should be called a ball. What this new technology has done is lend credence to what players and managers have been saying for well over a century: umpires miss some calls. There is even a minority group of players, managers, and fans now who want to do away with human umpires altogether and just use the computerized technology to determine what gets called a ball and what gets called a strike.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had such technology to help us with our behavior, our interpretations of scripture, and our discernment of God’s will? Just as we use a g.p.s. system to find our way from point A to point B, we could use our digital box to find our way into the parameters of what is pleasing to God in regards to our behavior, our interpretations of scripture, and our discernment of His will. But no such technology has been developed yet, has it? And it never will be. That means that we’ve just got to stick with the old tools at our disposal: serious scriptural study, serious prayer, and serious dying to self. These are the tools that people of God have been using for thousands of years to live lives pleasing to Him, and these tools will still work for us today if we will use them correctly.