I kept my calendar for Monday night clear because #99 was in the spotlight. Usually #99 is a football player’s number, and specifically, a huge man that plays on the defensive line. In this case, he’s huge, but he plays a sport that requires agility and speed. Aaron Judge is the largest man to ever play major league baseball, and yes, he’s a NY Yankee. He was in the Home Run Derby on Monday night, and wow, one of the most fun sports events I’ve watched in a long, long time (yes, we’re starved for some success here in NY/NJ sports!).
Twitter and other social media blew up. Instantly, the world knew about this guy, not just us diehard Yankee fans. Why? I think one reason is that people are starved for some heroes.
Judge is not only a huge man who effortlessly flicks incredibly-long home runs to all fields. He’s a high-character young man in an age where stardom typically convinces a budding world-class athlete that he’s something special, everyone knows it, and he should enjoy the ride while it lasts. Typically, young athletes develop a sense that the rules don’t apply to them; they get whatever they want, and others exist to please them.
Judge is different. He doesn’t talk about himself. When asked questions about himself, he changes the subject to the team. As sports heroes go, Aaron Judge seems like a great one.
Some of you have musical heroes, fashion heroes, or financial heroes. Whether you say it out loud or not, your priorities and your daydreams reflect the thought, “I wanna be like _____.”
This isn’t a bad thing. There are biblical examples, although none of them use that term “hero.” There’s the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11: people of old whose “heroism” was demonstrated by their faith. There’s the apostle Paul telling the Philippian church “Join together in following my example” (3:17) and the Corinthian church “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1).
So my questions:
- Do you have a spiritual “hero” worth imitating?
- Do some (or all!) of yours encourage you toward Jesus? Or away from Him?
- And so, are they truly worthy of imitation and adulation?
- Are you a biblical hero to anyone?
Some of you are “heroes” to your children, but perhaps because you never tell them “No,” and you orient life around their entertainment, their desires, their schedules. Parents, we are called to be biblical heroes to our children, not their buddies. This involves walking a faithful path of discipleship, with no quit in you, no compromise, and no giving into the world’s values that prioritize sports over worship: academics over discipleship, success/wealth over Christ-like character, ambition/acclaim over humility and other-centered service.
Aaron Judge captured the sports world’s attention in a big way on Monday night. He stoked dreams in Little Leaguers (and older Yankee-glory dreamers). Commemorative Aaron Judge baseball cards and jerseys sold out quickly. Oh, that we would see even a glimmer of such glory-chasing zeal in the Church. As people, young and old, become tunnel-versioned in our longing to be made more like the perfect God-Man, Jesus-Savior, Redeemer, and King – the true HERO who defeated sin and death, not with a sword, but by laying down his life on behalf of non-hero-sinners like you and me.
Grace to you,
Peter Wang has been Senior Past or of GRC for over 13 years. He’s married to Cedar and has three kids: Matthew, Kaylyn and Mitchell.