As a 11-year-old boy, there were few things I enjoyed more than opening up a newly minted pack of baseball or football cards. I was eager to celebrate over receiving the cards of players I idolized and quickly determined which cards I could trade to my friends. I knew a guy on the 5th grade playground that would just about trade his own mother for a certain Will Clark baseball card. I would be tempted to give an equally lucrative deal for a card featuring Barry Larkin. Most of us 11-year-olds were convinced that we would be retired by 40 with houses in Paris, the Bahamas, and Australia based solely on the future value of our baseball card collections. Unfortunately, other than a Jerry Rice rookie card worth about $100, most of the cards in my collection are worth pennies. Not quite the life changing retirement money I expected to have by now.
A deacon at the church I pastored recently showed me a picture of the baseball card he most proudly possessed. It was a 1982 Topps Future Stars card featuring three baseball players. The first was Bob Bonner, a shortstop who played in 61 games where he batted .194 and had zero homeruns. The second player was Jeff Schneider, a pitcher who played just one year in the Major Leagues. He pitched in 24 innings and gave up 13 runs.
The third “Future Star” was voted an All-Star 19 times over his 21-year career. He played 3,001 games for the Baltimore Orioles and holds the record for the most consecutive games played at 2,632. He had 3,184 hits, 431 home runs and 1,695 RBI’s. He is a multiple time MVP and Golden Glove winner who was named the starting shortstop for the MLB All-Century Team. His name is Cal Ripken, Jr.
As a result of Ripken’s accomplishments, the “Future Stars” baseball card is listed for sale on Ebay for as much as $1,200.
Now imagine if you met Jeff Schneider or Bob Bonner and they bragged how their baseball card is worth over $1,000. You would laugh because you know the worth of the card has nothing to do with them. It has everything to do with who they are with.
Similarly, some people point to their good works as their statistics to say, “Look at the great things I have done.” We know that presenting a personal summary of stats to God will prove to be as worthless as my overflowing shoeboxes of baseball cards. But when you put your faith in Christ, His accomplishments are credited to us, and we become worthy. We become worthy not because of who we are but because of who we are with.
In Romans 5:19, Paul reminds us, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” How encouraging is it to know that although we frequently strikeout in our spiritual life we can be counted righteous because of the accomplishments of Christ! When we submit to following Christ, His sinlessness, obedience, death, and resurrection get credited to our righteousness. Ultimately, we are all a bunch of Bob Bonners and Jeff Schneiders who need to be reminded… it is not what we have done, but it is about who we are with!