Thursday, June 20, 2019
In 1958 I became a baseball fan. Not only did I play it every chance I had, but I listened to it on the radio whenever I could sneak into the bedroom and change the channel on dad’s radio. I was captivated by the exploits of a certain right fielder named Al Kaline, who was at that time the youngest player to ever play in the major leagues, having made his professional debut in 1953 at age 19. He was my hero. I dreamed of playing the outfield like Mr. Kaline.
I remained a Detroit Tigers baseball fan for many years after that, and celebrated World Series victories in 1968 and 1984. Since 1987 I have lost a lot of interest in following the Tigers closely for a lot of different reasons. I stopped wearing Detroit baseball caps, and I couldn’t even tell you who started at all of the positions on their team last year, even though I can still tell you who played in 1968. If you want to know about the present or the future of Tiger baseball, don’t ask me – I’ve become an apathetic fan.
Many people are just like me as a baseball fan when it comes to their relationship with Jesus Christ. I could list dozens of people I have known over the years who as children went to Sunday School and church and professed to be followers of Jesus, but are now living in the world without any visible evidence that they still follow Him. They no longer behave in a way that reflects a personal interest in God’s plan for their lives. If you asked them they may be able to tell you some historical memories of an experience they had with God years ago, but it has no relevant value to their lives today. There is nothing presently real about a relationship with God, and they certainly give no indication that they desire a future with Him.
These are the people to whom Isaiah is writing in today’s Scripture passage. They have wandered away from following God and don’t even know that He still loves them and that He is at work to bring them back into a meaningful relationship with Himself.
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
People need to hear the Good News that God has not given up on them and that He is still in control. They need a messenger with the Good News to tell them about the peace that is possible in their lives when they are right with God. They need to hear the news that all things work together for good to them that are in Christ Jesus and live according to His purpose. They need to be reminded of the incredible gift of salvation and that it includes deliverance from all the emotional and physical bondage they are in. They need to hear that God still reigns.
The fascinating part of this challenge to us from God is this: when they hear the Good News, they will consider the messenger to be beautiful. We succumb to stereotyping all backsliders as unreachable. We tend to think that they are too hardened to rescue. We think a first-time hearer will listen better than a previous hearer who has turned his back on what he once heard. There is truth to the hardening of a heart with consistent rejection, but that is not an excuse for us to stop seeking out those who have fallen away to bring them the Good News that God still forgives and restores. He did it with Israel, over and over again. The Good News is that he will do it with those today who have slipped away from a previous connection.
You are the messenger God has chosen. You will be considered beautiful for taking the message of hope to a person of displaced hope. When they respond to God and return to Him, they will thank you.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find someone who can tell me about the Tigers. Then I’m going to give them Good News.