I was driving home the other day and flipped on the local sports radio station here in Chicago. I enjoy listening to sports talk–particularly ESPN 1000, WMVP. For the most part the talk is lively, there are good interviews, and the discussion is about something that takes my mind off of the other pressing and important things of the day.
On this particular afternoon, the hosts were interviewing the Chicago Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein. Now if you’re a sports fan (and if you are not, I’ll allow you time to repent right here), you’ll know that Theo is the Great Hope of Cubs nation right now. We haven’t won a title in over 100 years. We’ve had our hearts ripped asunder by near misses in the playoffs, particularly the unforgettable, trama-inducing 6-outs-away-from-the-World-Series game that featured Steve Bartman and the ball interference in 2003 against the Florida Marlins. We’re a resilient, rugged bunch of longsuffering fans, we are.
Theo was brought in by the new owners who bought the Cubs a few years ago, the Rickets family. He came from Boston for a high price. He is a renowned baseball guru with a top-flight staff. Our hope is that he’ll do for us what he did in Boston–give a longsuffering fan base a championship. We’ll see. Right now we’re in the midst the long slog of rebuilding.
If you’re not a sports fan and you waded through those three paragraphs, don’t worry. There is something good here for you. Theo Epstein said something in his interview that made me think about the way we Christians love each other. He was asked about his evaluation of a potential draft pick, particularly about a poor choice this kid made right before the draft. Did this factor into their decision whether or not to pick this player? Theo said something like this, “Not at all. We look at the entire composite of a player’s life and factor in good and bad choices. We never evaluate a player based on his worst day.”
We never evaluate a player based on their worst day. What if we did this with our fellow believers? What if we said, “I’m not going to judge that person based on the worst thing I’ve seen them do or say or tweet or write.”?
It seems Jesus does this. I think of his words to Peter, when predicting Peter’s future failure in Luke 22:31-32. Jesus told Peter that he would let Him down in a big way. But it’s the words that come after that are stunning, “But when you return, encourage the brothers” (my paraphrase). Not if you return, when you return. When you comeback after your big fall, encourage others.
Jesus didn’t evaluate Peter by his worse day. And Scripture seems to have this theme of grace. I see this in Hebrews 11, the passage we often call the “Christian Hall of Faith.” Did you notice that of all of the men and women mentioned, nothing is given about their many flaws? Flaws we know about well from other parts of Scripture. You don’t hear about Abraham’s ill-fated journey to Egypt. You don’t hear about Moses’ striking the rock instead of speaking to it. You don’t hear about Gideon’s moral failures. Seems God is saying about these men, “I don’t judge them by their worst day.”
In fact, we know and we revel in the fact that because of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, we are not judged by our best day or our worst day. We’re judged by Jesus’ worst day–the day the Father look away from him, when Jesus bore the full punishment for our sin.
God doesn’t see our worst days. He sees Jesus. Perfect. Sinless. Victorious over sin and death. So my question to myself and to you is this: why can’t we see others like this? Why do we tend to think of our spouses by their faults instead of their strengths? Why do we keep an unlimited reservoir of the sins of those we love?
Imagine how our relationships would change if we followed this simple maxim: Don’t judge someone by their worst day? Imagine what would happen if we saw others in the light of God’s redemptive love for them. And we evaluated their lives by the good and not the short clips of bad.
Maybe we’d stop fishing for embarrassing Youtube clips of preachers we don’t like so we can drive traffic to our blogs.
Maybe we’d stop supporting a brand of politics that finds the faults and magnifies them before the world.
Maybe we’d stop saying to our friends and loved ones, “You always do this.”
Maybe we’d stop trying to score rhetorical points and start engaging people in meaningful conversations.
Maybe we’d look at the entirety of people’s lives and respect them for the good they do.
Because, if the president of a baseball team can do this when it comes to his players, can’t we Christians do this when it comes to those we are called to love?