Lately I’ve been describing the lessons I learned from God while I was a young, frustrated, underachieving professional baseball player. The lessons He gave me were sacred. They were about focusing on Jesus. They were about making a vow that I would not live for myself. And they concerned the greatest lesson of all, which is also the greatest commandment of all:
Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
Last time I told you about a day in 2006 when I read these words and had a conversation with God about them. God told me, “Learn to love your neighbor as yourself within baseball, and then promote that. That’s success, Jeremy. There’s your success.” I knew, right then, that I had the answer to one of life’s biggest mysteries. Why am I here? I am here to love God and my neighbor, with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. I think that’s the reason anyone is here.
Loving your neighbor as yourself is not just something you do when you go to church on Sunday. It’s really easy to love your neighbor at church. We turn and shake hands, we pass the peace, and we greet each other. Then when we leave church, everything changes. Our whole attitude is like, “I don’t see people.” You know, we’ve got our headphones in, we’ve got our iPods on, and our body language is geared to say, “Don’t talk to me.”
We don’t want to have neighbors when we’re outside of church. It’s when we come to church that the headphones come off and we greet each other. “Hey! How are you doing? You look great! This is an awesome day.” It’s so easy to love our neighbors in church.
But we have neighbors all over the world, not just in church. We’re asked to love our neighbors everywhere we go, not just in church. We’re asked to do it in our life. We’re asked to do it in our walk. The Bible says that we are to be the aroma of Christ. People should feel Jesus in us everywhere we go.
That’s the great commandment! When you understand that, and then start to see how to use your gifts to love your neighbor as yourself, you will find success.
And right there, I found my next challenge. How could I use my gifting in baseball to love my neighbor as myself? Obviously God was not done teaching me. I’ll tell you more about that next time. See you Wednesday.