The Kid in Right Field

My eleven-year-old son recently started playing baseball again. I realized this weekend that I’ve become the dad that explains baseball nuance and rules to the parents around me. I can’t help it. Even as an introvert, I have to respond when a parent randomly asks out loud (to no one in particular), “Why did that kid just run to first base on a strikeout?”

But this last weekend I saw something I didn’t have an explanation for. If you look at the photo below, my son’s team was on the field in green. And if you look closer, the kid playing right field is wearing a bright orange jersey (look in the red circle).

That’s because he was on the other team.

Our team was short two players, which also explains why there were only two outfielders. Evidently, they went to the other team and got someone to play the field. I couldn’t help thinking how challenging this must be for this kid. How hard should he try to play defense against his own team? Were his parents rooting for him to play amazing defense too? What if his team lost because of an amazing play he made against them?

It’s a bit of a tricky situation which leads to confusing motivations. But this is actually more common than we may realize.

To illustrate this, I invite you to consider the following photos.

How do you process these photos from the border in Texas as Haitian asylum seekers attempt to come to the U.S.? Depending on your perspective, you can view this situation from a variety of lenses. Here are a few that come to mind:

  • You can respond as an American
  • You can respond as a white person
  • You can respond as a person of color
  • You can respond as a previous immigrant or recent descendant of immigrants
  • You can respond as a parent
  • You can respond as a Christian

Like the kid in the orange jersey in right field, you may struggle to know which of these should motivate you the most. Which team are we playing for?

I remember writing about people being locked in cages back in January of 2018 and thinking that as Christians we could universally agree this was wrong (see: Are Christians Obligated to Support the Government?). Instead, I learned I was wrong and had vastly misread many Christians. The responses I got were disheartening (to say the least). People left our church in Oregon over my blog post.

Friends, if we are committed to following Jesus, it’s time to focus on which team we’re playing for. I don’t know how the U.S. should best handle immigration. But I know America isn’t my primary team. I believe strongly that any and all solutions must begin with empathy. The kind of empathy that doesn’t create photos like these ones. If you’re struggling to empathize with why these families are coming here in this way, I’d encourage you to read Jeanine Cummins’ book American Dirt (see: Amazon link).

May we start by seeing the face of Jesus in every person who crosses our border. No matter the color of their skin or the legal status of how they got here. How many Christians in America have been working for generations to evangelize the nations only to then refuse the nations when they come to us? And if you’re thinking to yourself right now… “But they are breaking the law,” just be mindful that’s an indicator of which response you’re choosing to this situation.

Might I suggest the following words of Jesus as a better lens from which to view a situation like this one:

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

Matthew 25:41-45

According to this logic, which person(s) in these photos represents Jesus?

May we start by seeing the face of Jesus in every person who crosses our border. No matter the color of their skin or the legal status of how they got here. Click To Tweet

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Jeremy Jernigan

Speaker | Author | Founder of Communion Wine Co.