A few years ago, Shawn Green, then a star outfielder for the L.A. Dodgers, skipped a late September baseball game to observe Yom Kippur. He had recently begun to seriously dedicate himself to Orthodox Judaism, after being a Jew “in name only” for most of his life. Green was at the time a budding superstar, and had been given the salary of one. At fourteen million dollars per year, he was the highest paid player on the team.
Sports-radio pundits were irate at what they thought was poor prioritizing on Green’s part. Lividly, they ranted about how putting religion first may be the right thing to do in “God’s world” (um… what is the one we are living in called?), but THIS is Major League baseball. They posited the question, “What comes first, occupation or religion?” In several different ways, these gurus of all things athletic explicitly contended for the answer–“occupation.” To them, the thought of a person putting his religious convictions over his occupational obligations was ludicrous.
Shawn Green may be religiously wrong, but the move he made was a right one! He was, at least, a proper role model for impressionable, young sports fans in a day when athletes litter the news with sordid tales of perversion, lawlessness, drunkenness, and sexual immorality and brutality. Yet, it seems that the more telling story is the attitude shared by most people and expressed by these talk show hosts.
What should come first? Sports? Entertainment? Politics? Social life? Occupation? Or, Christ? The Bible instructs the one who wants to go to heaven, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt. 6:33). In another place, Jesus warns, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Mt. 10:37). In John’s gospel, He adds, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father, even God, has set His seal” (Jn. 6:37). Here IS the bottom line. Our top priority in this life is serving the Lord. Our number one business is preparing for heaven and taking as many as possible with us there. Our greatest concern must be letting nothing come before our commitment to God (cf. Ex. 20:3; Mk. 12:29-30). This world has gotten so topsy turvy and confused that we are calling evil good and good evil (cf. Is. 5:20). Thank you, Shawn Green! May your example cause our sin-sick nation to wake up and understand that God must be preeminent (Col. 1:18)!