Jesus used many analogies to describe His relationship with the church, such as “My Bride” or “My Body.”
Baseball offers some parallels that surely could be used as a modern analogy of the church. In baseball, no player scores unless the runner touches all the bases and returns home. Hitting the ball is where it all starts. No one can come to Christ unless the Holy Spirit draws him to the team. If he yields to the Holy Spirit and accepts salvation, the player hits a home run. The fans in the stands cheer. Coach Jesus yells, “Run!” and the player begins his lap.
First base is to know God’s big story — the chronological way God revealed Himself to man. Many players never learn the story well enough to tell it to someone else. Christian faith is not wishful thinking or based on emotion, but is a reasoned response to a brilliant plan. A player who doesn’t understand that will not run well or may even drop out. Some players learn the story before hitting the ball. If not, that is the first thing a new recruit needs to learn to run the bases well.
After knowing the story and being able to explain it, the player runs to second base. There, he or she learns to be a disciple and to make disciples. Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples. If our journey with Christ has not produced reproducing disciple-makers, we missed a mandatory skill early in our Christian walk. A player who overshoots second base needs to go back and make sure he touches.
After being a disciple-maker, the player needs to run to third base and understand what it means to “be” the church. This is different than “going” to church or “having” church. Being the church means we are committed to the obedient practice of everything the Lord commanded and involved in loving fellowship with others who are doing the same. It is the gathering to which we draw our new disciples to model the “one another” commands.
No matter how hard we hit the ball or how well we run the bases, we don’t score until we return to home plate. The purpose of baseball is to score more runs than the opposing team. The purpose of the church is to disciple the nations until there is a representative “team” of each tribe and tongue. We score for Jesus’ team by gathering the inheritance the Father promised to the Son — the nations. Jesus said He is not returning until we get that done.
The saints and angels are in the stands. Coach Jesus is waiting for us to finish our run and gather His inheritance. Umpire Father is waiting at home plate to declare us safe. Will you do it? Will you do your part to finish the task?
Rayman is the academic dean of Coastal Georgia School of Missions and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance of Liberty County.