This past Tuesday night was Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in Denver, which the American League has now won eight years in a row! Two of the top stories were Shohei Ohtani and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Shohei plays for the Los Angeles Angels and was both starting pitcher and leadoff batter for the American League. He also participated in the Home Run Derby the night before and is the first player in Major League Baseball history to earn an All-Star selection as both a hitter and pitcher. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., first baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays, crushed a home run in the third inning that went 468 feet. He became the youngest player ever to win the MVP award.
I’ve loved baseball my whole life and one of my favorite players ever was 13-time All-Star, George Brett. Ironically, he played his last professional baseball game here in Arlington several years ago and I’ll never forget it. We had followed his career ever since we’d lived in Kansas City back in the ‘70’s. So, we were interested when he announced his retirement, and it was fun to watch him play his final game and see him record the last hit of his career.
But something else caught my attention when George retired. It was the word LOYALTY. It was first expressed by George at the press conference when he mentioned his thanks and appreciation to Ewing Kauffman and the Royals’ organization for allowing him the privilege of playing his entire career in Kansas City. That’s LOYALTY! (He spent 20 years with the same team. Something almost unheard of today.)
The Royals’ management and fans appreciated George’s loyalty as well. USA TODAY said he received a standing ovation in every at-bat in Kauffman Stadium after he announced his retirement. Herk Robinson, who was general manager for the Royals at the time, said, “Every time he put on the Royals’ uniform, you knew that George Brett was going to give it everything he had.” That included the fact that Brett didn’t end his career at home in Kansas City, but went on the final road trip which ended here in Arlington on a Sunday afternoon. He was giving it all he had, right up to the last game of his career. That’s LOYALTY!
LOYALTY is almost a forgotten concept in our selfish, “ME FIRST!” society, where quitting, walking away, breaking vows, ignoring commitments, saying one thing and doing another, lying, cheating and self-centeredness are the rule of the day. But there ought to be one place where you could see endless examples of LOYALTY on a daily basis: the Church of the Lord, JESUS CHRIST.
Can I get a witness?
JESUS said, “Be faithful (loyal), even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10c). The apostle Paul wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (remained loyal to the end). Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Wouldn’t it be great if, when our life comes to a close, all of heaven stood to their feet in a standing ovation and said about us: “Every day they gave it all they had for the Lord and His church. They were loyal to the end (even on the ‘road trips’).”
I’m sure there were plenty of times during the 20 years George Brett played with the Kansas City Royals when there were problems. Conflicts with teammates. Disagreements with decisions made by the coaching staff and front office. Times when he would’ve liked to have been on some other team. There were times when he went into a slump for no apparent reason. Times when he had to play hurt and even times when injuries prevented him from playing.
But, through it all, one thing kept him going and was inevitably the reason he made it to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame: LOYALTY. Loyalty to the game. Loyalty to his team.
“He was giving it all he had, right up to the last game of his career.”
What’s true in professional baseball is also true in the church. Anybody can quit. Anybody can sit in the stands complaining, criticizing, and second-guessing those who are playing. But it takes a special person to say, “Give me a uniform. I want to get in the game. I want to make a difference. I want to help build a winner. I want to be a problem solver instead of a problem-pointer-outer. I’ll give it all I’ve got ’til I die or JESUS comes to get me.”
What would happen if you and I were completely loyal to the Lord and His church, giving Him everything we’ve got every single day? Hanging in there not only during the good times, but even during the not so good times. Staying steadfast at our post even in the midst of some unexplainable slump, disagreement with a coach or teammate or because we’ve been hurt.
By the way, can you imagine TWENTY YEARS or more with the same church? Unless you died or God moved you to another city? God can. He wrote the book on LOYALTY.
Surely those of us who call ourselves Christians, involved in a much more significant enterprise than baseball and headed to a far better place than Cooperstown, should possess a loyalty that far surpasses that of any athlete playing any game.
Let’s be known for our LOYALTY to the Lord and His Church, not just this summer, but during every season!
Be a difference maker!
© 2021. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.