I have always enjoyed baseball. I remember the passion began when I was just a youngster playing wiffle ball in my back yard with by brother, Dennis, along with our neighbors, Larry and Terry Dobyns. We played for hours. Then it was off to little league with a harder ball and bat. Then it was over to Miller Park where the Pony League played. Then I began to play High School Ball. Through the years, the game I loved continue to change in intensity, becoming faster and harder. Until now…where for several years, I have returned to a softer ball with a bunch of older men, like myself.
My favorite position to play has always been pitching. One of the key to being a good pitcher is learning the proper follow through. The phases of throwing include windup, early cocking, late cocking, early acceleration, late acceleration, deceleration, and follow-through. You can get everything else right and fail to follow through and your pitch will be disastrous. I can hear my high-school coaches scream from the dugout as though it was yesterday, “Ben, you’re not following through!”
James chapter two begins painting a picture of follow-through. He opens the chapter with a challenge to treat everyone equally with love and a heart to serve. The church was no place for partiality. Brothers and sisters in Christ are equal no matter their upbringing, race, social-economic status, or appearance. I have visited over 200 churches in the last 5 years and witnessed some wonderful atmospheres in local churches. I am thankful especially for churches that focus on Christ and His Spirit changing a man and woman from the inside out, instead of outside manipulation. A person does not need to be motivated to think that they must do thus and such or behave in this manner in order for God to love them, bless them, and receive them. We do not manipulate God, so we can receive from Him what we desire; as if He would not love us and receive us as a Father, and wonderful God already. I am not talking about those who are not saved, or who choose to walk after the flesh instead of in the Spirit. I am speaking of those who are learning to love Him and please Him. There must be a place of grace and mercy for people to grow.
He then follows this discussion by writing a difficult passage about Faith and Works. James 2:17, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Remember that taken in context, James isn’t discussing salvation but instead refuting ineffective and apathetic Christianity. These Christians were still lacing up their shoes, pulling out their gloves, and displayed their league and team colors. But they lacked follow-through.
Scripture is full of mandates to effectively follow-through your beliefs. If we say we really believe something, like Scripture, why do we not live like it? My kids, my neighbors, my co-workers and my friends are watching my follow-through every day. Frankly, they don’t care what I look like or if my ball curves brilliantly down the field. They are watching to see if the game is real and the results are what He says they will be. They are watching to see if I am faithful to live what I say I believe. Only then will I attract them to this amazing “game”. Only then will they see that it isn’t a game at all, it’s the abundant Christian life. Let me ask you, how’s your follow-through?