The question has earned some barbs from comedians and scorn from non-Christians not because of the books but the marketing that piggy-backed on the question, marketing that runs the gamut from trivial to heretical (At the bottom of this blog post you will find one of those photos that has given me a good laugh; but I doubt entirely that God has a favorite team.)
Some humorist once said “Of course Jesus would play baseball. Haven’t you ever heard of Jesus Alou? (Jesus Alou was among many Hispanic players with this surname, a common practice in Latin countries. This Jesus played in the 60s and 70s for the Giants, Mets, Astros, and A’s).
The question is rooted in the fact that many people absolutely love baseball. It is a sport that gives them much joy. But it is also a sport that others disdain, or even consider a royal waste of time in a world where weighty matters need to be addressed. Who cares about the Cubs and their misfortunes when there is poverty in Haiti and terrorism in the Middle East?
Whenever I hear that, I just want to say “Lighten up.”
Of course, people are often far too hasty to invoke the reputation of Jesus to advance their prejudices or justify their petty hatreds. I have little doubt that what Jesus hates is little badges like this, or big causes that use His name for evil.
The truth is that the question is a valid one and for authentic Christians, an absolutely essential one. Not specifically “would Jesus play baseball” but the core value behind it. As Christians we are called to reflect the values of Jesus Christ in all the activities of our life and at all levels of our life. There are some things that clearly Jesus would not do – abuse a child, burn a cross in hatred, steal someone’s retirement fund, pass by on the other side when he saw a beggar in the street.
But there is a whole lot of life where the deeper question is, “would we do this as Jesus would do it?” Or “would Jesus even do this at all?” Would we do business in a manner inconsistent with the values of loving our neighbor? Would we support the porn industry? Would we abuse a fellow employee so we could get the job we wanted to have? Would we ignore our grandmother in the nursing home because we’d rather play golf?
Back to baseball, I doubt seriously that if Jesus were pitching that he’d throw a knockdown pitch in retaliation or use steroids to get an edge on every one else. He wouldn’t loaf up the line to first base either.
Christians understand that they are in the world to be salt and light, to influence and transform their world precisely by doing what Jesus would do. And for Christians there are no “time outs” when they can act like hell in a world that already knows enough hell.
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? … You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:13-16
There are probably enough books on the market answering the question “what would Jesus do?”, but the question never is trivial or irrelevant. Our world would be greatly blessed if we asked about our values, our activities, our professions, etc. “is this what Jesus would do?” Sorry folks, I couldn’t resist.