It Really Is A Simple Game

David Burchett

Recently the movie Bull Durham turned up on a cable channel. Hard to believe it has been over 25 years since it was released. 

Closeup of a baseball being pitched.

In this article I am going to draw some spiritual applications from an R-rated movie. Gasp. In my early church experience real Christians didn’t watch any movie and most assuredly not an R-rated one. The really godly people did not drink or dance. The really, really godly people did not have televisions. They were a laugh a minute. If any of those folks were to read today’s post they would no doubt remove me from their fellowship that I used to call “The First Church Of Misery Loves Company But We Probably Won’t Love You”.

Despite that risk of censure I press on. No baseball movie that I have seen comes closer to capturing the unique culture of baseball like Bull Durham. It has some rough language and sexual content so you should proceed with caution. The main characters are a young pitching phenom (Nook LaLoosh) and a nearly washed up but knowledgeable catcher (Crash Davis) who is brought in to mentor the prize prospect. One of my favorite scenes is when Crash teaches the young pitcher how to handle interviews with the press.

Crash Davis: “It's time to work on your interviews.”
Nuke LaLoosh: “My interviews? What do I gotta do?”
Crash Davis: “You're gonna have to learn your clichés. You're gonna have to study them, you're gonna have to know them. They're your friends. Write this down: "We gotta play it one day at a time."
Nuke LaLoosh: “Got to play... it's pretty boring.”
Crash Davis: “Course it's boring, that's the point. Write it down.”

I have learned that the journey with Jesus is simply living it one day at a time. That may sound boring. Write it down. You can’t live in regret of the past. It is forgiven. You can’t live in fear of the future. It is in God’s Hands. You live in the moment, one day at a time, trusting Him for that day. That’s the point. Play it one day at a time.

My friend John Weber is in heaven. He had a saying that I love.

“God didn’t call me to be spectacular. He called me to be faithful.”

Write it down.

Another quote from the movie Bull Durham had spiritual application for me.

"This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains."

In many ways Christianity is a very simple faith that we have made incredibly legalistic and difficult. To paraphrase the line above. “You love the Lord your God. You love your neighbor. Sometimes it is easy. sometimes it is hard. Sometimes life rains on you.”

Why do I want to make it so maddeningly complex? Jesus said that two things are the most important.

One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: "Which is most important of all the commandments?"
Jesus said, "The first in importance is, 'Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' And here is the second: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' There is no other commandment that ranks with these."

Today I sit here and wonder why I ever tried to make it anything else? The scholar who heard the words of Jesus “got it”.

The religion scholar said, "A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that's better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!" (Mark 12, The Message)

I wonder how the body of Christ would look differently if we concentrated on those two simple commands? Would we worry so much about the worship music style and the vestibule carpet color? Why do we get so exorcised about what other Christians are doing and other people are saying? Why do we care so much about being treated fairly and getting what we deserve? If we concentrated on those two commands we would be so much happier and effective for Christ. We would experience and give grace.

But do I get it? Or do I still get sidetracked by life and pride and worries? It is really very simple. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart. Read the Word daily. Love others as you love yourself. That is what Jesus told me to do. Nothing about programs or positions or curriculum or strategies.

Love God. Love others.

Write it down.

Author Dave Burchett's latest book is Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace. You can follow him on Twitter @directordb