The movie 42 tells the story of Jackie Robinson’s experience as the first African-American baseball player in the Major Leagues.
It is a satisfying movie in the archetypal sports movie kind of way, but I was surprised to appreciate it most in a theological sort of way. Curious? Watch the movie trailer, and keep reading.
Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, recruited Robinson fully aware of the social fury that would ensue. When Rickey instructed Robinson not to fight back, under any circumstances, Robinson responded, “Do you want a player who doesn’t have the guts to fight back?” Rickey replied, “No! I want a player who has the guts NOT to fight back.”
That would be much more difficult.
I saw this movie (conveniently) as I was preparing to teach on the Apostle Paul’s famous passage about spiritual battles in which he uses the word stand four times in eight verses. We’re instructed to wear the armor of God, “so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood…”
We are not instructed to fight, to advance, to march, or to run, but to stand.
We stand because Jesus has already won the victory.
There is no need to fight for Kingdom ground that Jesus has already claimed. As Watchman Nee put it in his book, Sit, Walk, Stand, “Thus today we do not fight for victory; we fight from victory.” (p. 55)
Like Robinson played for the Dodgers at Rickey’s invitation, we hold positions on God’s team at the pleasure of the Owner. When we take the field to play our parts on His team no matter who or what opposes us, we stand ready to participate in God’s eternal plan.
Like Jackie Robinson.
Who or what were the enemies opposing Jackie Robinson?
Ignorant fans? A racist manager? No, they were pawns in a much larger fight. Robinson’s presence on the Brooklyn Dodgers exposed a spiritual stronghold of racism that had put down deep roots in our country over hundreds of years. Racism was the real enemy, and the fight to defeat it was far larger than any conflict on a baseball field.
For Robinson to fight against human hecklers would have been to lose ground in the larger spiritual battle.
Whether Jackie Robinson knew it or not, and I suspect he did, he was following Jesus. Jesus did not fight. He stood silently before Pilate, knowing that in so standing he would win the decisive battle in the cosmic struggle against Satan.
Jesus taught and demonstrated for us the power of a strong stand. Do we have the guts to believe it?
What position do you play on God’s team? Do you face opposition? Is it difficult to stand?
“…put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13
It is sad to see defeated Christians singing…”Onward…Christian soldiers…marching as to war.” As you pointed out…..it is more scriptural for the believer to sing…”Stand up…stand up for Jesus…ye soldiers of the cross.” Just to be able to stand in an evil day is a victory for the believer.
Great ideas this week. I was thinking I need to be ok being the outfielder instead of always wanting to be in charge and being the pitcher. What is good, is I am getting better with not having to have it my way by God’s grace. I know he is the owner of me and i am on his team.
Me too, Helen. Don’t you think it’s human nature to want to be in charge? I guess we all have to learn to surrender to God’s way, as you say by God’s grace. I’m just happy to be on His team! And happy to be on the field with such great teammates! Have a blessed day, Helen!
Thank you for helping us see the importance of standing over the feeling that we should be fighting, Judy. I read once that standing requires a great leap of faith. God bless you as you stand today. I look forward to seeing the movie too!
My favorite Jackie Robinson story concerned an exhibition game in the South. The fans were screaming horrendous words at him which he did his best to ignore. Pee Wee Reese, the captain of the Dodgers and a Kentucky native, walked over to second base and put his arm around Robinson, letting every fan know where he stood. The thought of Reese making that gesture at that time in history still brings tears to my eyes.
Of course, standing is tough. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t need the armor of God, but also, you wouldn’t then have the heroes of faith who are mentioned in Hebrews 11.
I look forward to seeing the movie soon.
I think you’ll like it, Larry. You make a great point that if it were easy to stand, we wouldn’t need any help. And, my oh my, we certainly do need help!
Ooooh, Judy! This was so great–confirmation of what I learned on my recent Valley trip; so, kind of a prelude to some of what I’ll be sharing next week–thanks, sis!! My “trip” will be 4 “long” posts–I hope you’ll have time and patience to have a read (or, you could wait for the movie–hahaha). God bless you richly today and always–love, sis Caddo
I look forward to next week, and I will absolutely make time to learn from all that you will share. Love and blessings to you, Caddo!
I sort of got carried away, sorry. I meant to comment further on what you said, why it was so helpful and confirming to me, to have you speak about the battle being the Lord’s–and that we should perhaps focus more on “standing”, than running ourselves ragged trying to fight. In the past, the message I’ve received is that I should be “fighting harder”–so, if I didn’t gain victory, it was all my fault. But in my recent “Valley” trip, God was very clear, through the scriptures, that the battle is His–that He is fighting for us, diligently and with certain Victory (already won). I believe this enabled me to not “spin my wheels”, but to Rest in Him and Trust Him–and thus the whole episode was over more quickly than in times past. So, thanks again, Judy–I never thought I’d say this, but “learning is fun!”
That’s beautiful Caddo. I don’t think we realize the power of resting in Him. His rest is infinitely more powerful than our work. I’m learning that too. God is a very gentle teacher, isn’t he?
I may add a link to your post in my testimony, Judy–because the statement you just made, “His rest is infinitely more powerful than our work”, is really crucial for everyone to absorb, I believe. I can’t thank you enough for adding to my recent learning experience–I just LOVE it when God works like this, weaving our paths together so we obtain more of His Truth. May He bless your day BIG!
I’d be honored if you choose to link to this post, Caddo. And I too love the connections and encouragement to be had in the blogging community. Happy Friday!
Happy Friday to you, too!! We’re having lovely weather–and it’s supposed to go through next week–yippee! I added the link, so I hope you’ll be pleased with the overall talk-a-thon! “Let the redeemed say so!” (It doesn’t say anything about word-limit, does it!!) See you soon.