There’s a lot of excitement among Toronto sports fans these days. By the miracles of good playing and better mathematics, the Blue Jays secured a one-game wild card playoff against the Baltimore Orioles earlier this week. The two teams were very evenly matched, as is evidenced by the fact that the game went to eleven innings.
The tension of the tie was broken in the bottom of the eleventh when Edwin Encarnación hit a walk-off home run, securing Toronto a shot at the American League Division Series, which the Jays are now playing against the Texas Rangers. (If last night’s game is any indication, Toronto could be moving on quickly!)
Interestingly, at least in the Toronto media, what has taken at least an equal place in the news with the team’s move into the post-season is the story of an individual who tossed a beer can onto the field during the wild card game, nearly hitting a Baltimore outfielder.
Shame has been heaped upon this individual from all sides. The Toronto Police Service believed they had footage of the individual, and recommended that he turn himself in or find his photo released to the public. (I’m not sure that someone who would seek to hit a baseball player with a beer can would respond to the threat of public shaming, but that’s another story.) Once the photo was released, the individual was identified and he has since retained counsel and contacted police.
Those who know the man say that it would be most uncharacteristic of him to do such a thing as toss a beer can onto the playing field. The photo that was released, interestingly, shows him drinking from a plastic glass. Ultimately, the evidence will be produced in court and the accused individual will be found guilty or not guilty. At this point, the evidence released to the public seems particularly sketchy.
When I learn of situations like this, I’m often reminded of our responsibility as followers of Jesus to live out our faith and to take the Great Commission, to make disciples of all nations, seriously. Over the years, though, I’ve known enough Christians who have kept their faith completely private, save for Sunday morning, and found that even some of their friends were surprised to learn they were Christians.
Faith must be personal, yes – it’s the only way truly to experience the grace of God. But while it must be personal, faith must not be private. After all, someone else removed the veil of privacy from her or his faith in order that you could become a follower of Jesus.
If you were charged and tried with being a Christian, would there be enough public evidence to convict you?
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves” (James 1.22, NLT).