(This commentary by Eric Metaxis is adapted from one that originally aired on April 15, 2013, and shorted a bit by me so you keep reading! HERE is the whole article if you’re interested) Z has a question at the end, please chime in!
If you happen to watch a Major League Baseball game on TV tonight, you’ll notice something unusual about the players’ uniforms. (This was two nights ago, I think). Every major leaguer will be wearing the number 42.
That’s because 69 years ago today (Z: actually on April 15), Brooklyn Dodgers great Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.
It’s almost impossible for us today to imagine what Robinson endured as the big leagues’ first black ballplayer. But his ordeal is captured brilliantly in the biopic film “42,” which came out just a few years ago.
As good as the film is, it all but omits the most significant factor in Jackie Robinson’s ability to turn the other cheek; to endure almost unbearable insults and physical attacks on the field without lashing out himself. That factor was Robinson’s strong Christian faith.
As I note in my book, “7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness,” while he was a student at Pasadena Junior College, “Jackie met a Methodist preacher named Karl Downs. Downs knew that Jackie was a Christian and taught him that exploding in anger was not the Christian answer to injustice. But he explained that a life truly dedicated to Christ was not submissive; on the contrary, it was heroic…. Downs eventually led Jackie to a deeper faith in Jesus Christ. He began to see that the path to justice would be done not with fists and fury but with love and restraint.”
As “42” opens, we see Jackie Robinson sitting in the office of Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey as he hears the incredible news that Rickey wants him to play for the Dodgers. Then Rickey acts out the vicious varieties of bigotry Jackie will face from white hotel managers, restaurant waiters, and fellow ballplayers—insults he will have to face with dignity.
How much more dramatic this scene would have been had “42” told the whole story. Rickey knew that Robinson shared his Christian faith, and wanted to reinforce the spiritual dimensions of the battle both men were sure to face. Rickey pulled out a copy of a book by Giovanni Papini, “Life of Christ.” He flipped to the passage in which Papini discusses the Sermon on the Mount. There he referred to Jesus’ call to “turn the other cheek” as “the most stupefying of [Jesus’] revolutionary teachings.”
Rickey’s faith told him that injustice had to be fought wherever it was found. As for Jackie Robinson, he believed that God had chosen him for this noble purpose. And he knew that if he committed himself to doing this great thing, God would give him the strength he needed to see it through.
Day after day, Jackie Robinson’s faith fueled his ability to play great baseball. Night after night, he got down on his knees, asking God for strength in the face of unrelenting hatred.
If they read the book they’ll learn why Jackie Robinson changed America for the better. He did it by living out, on and off the baseball field, the revolutionary words of Jesus: Turn the other cheek.” (end of article)
Z: ‘Turn the other cheek” was good advice when Jesus suggested it and it’s still such positive, strong advice today. Some things never change. Except human decency does change, apparently…..once we stop listening to the hallowed advice from 2000 years ago. So many people are vengeful today, uptight, ready go pounce, insult. Even Trump said recently in a radio interview that “An Eye for an Eye” ‘might be’ his favorite Bible verse. Imagine?
Did Jackie Robinson’s not fighting back, not showing his hurt, not being vengeful, help his cause?
THIS isn’t a bad overview of what “Turn the other cheek” and “an eye for an eye” actually mean… Matthew Henry, a personal favorite, writes this about “Turn the other cheek”: “The plain instruction is, Suffer any injury that can be borne, for the sake of peace, committing your concerns to the Lord’s keeping. And the sum of all is, that Christians must avoid disputing and striving. If any say, Flesh and blood cannot pass by such an affront, let them remember, that flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God; and those who act upon right principles will have most peace and comfort.” Well said.
Thoughts? What a great guy Jackie Robinson was…would anybody even admire him today, other than us? Does the strength he had to keep going amidst horrible name calling even still exist in most people? How much did his faith have to do with that?