I’m rooting for Alex Rodriguez. He’s batting .284 with a .513 Slugging Percentage. He has 16 home runs to go along with 12 doubles at the halfway point of the season. The Yankee’s designated hitter should be an All Star, but most think he doesn’t deserve to even play the game.
But not me. I’m rooting for him.
Alex Rodriguez has a troubled past. An admitted drug user, his legacy tarnished by PEDs. He has lied, cheated, and denied the charges against him. But he finally relented, admitted, and accepted his punishment. He sat out an entire season to atone for his past sins. And now, fully rehabilitated, he rejoined the New York Yankees in their pursuit of an historic 28th World Series title.
But still, most baseball fans don’t like Alex Rodriguez. They boo him any chance they get. They call him a bum, a cheater, a steroid bloated junkie.
But not me. I’m rooting for him. And here’s why.
Alex Rodriguez’s story is so similar to every story I’ve ever heard before. A person’s sins are uncovered. They deny it. They negotiate. They plead and beg and lie. And then finally, they relent. They confess their sins and pay the cost.
Once our sins are uncovered and confessed, how long must we suffer? I’m not talking about excusing illegal behavior. But once the full debt has been paid, and in the case of Alex Rodriguez it has – a full season of lost wages and playing time. Once a person has paid for their sins, how long must they suffer?
The story of Alex Rodriguez is one of brokenness, but it is also one of redemption. The contract he signed in 2007 specified certain bonuses for breaking certain baseball records. The Yankees indicated they would renege on their promise due to Rodriguez’s admitted PED use. The two sides recently settled their dispute with a payment of $3.5 million going to charity instead of the slugger’s pocket book. That right there is a picture of redemption. Let me explain.
In Luke 12, Jesus tells a story about workers who diligently await their master’s return. They keep their lamps burning all through the night. The implication is obvious – keep doing what you’re supposed to do, because we don’t know when Jesus will return. He ends the story with this lesson:
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.
In other words, those who are faithful are faithful because they have been given much by the master. Part of the gift from our master is grace – forgiveness and favor that we don’t deserve. Since we’ve been given grace, we must give grace.
Alex Rodriguez doesn’t deserve to play baseball. He broke the rules, lied about it, tried to cover it up, and disgraced an entire organization. But he is playing baseball now. He was given grace to return to the game he once loved. And now he’s returning that grace by giving to charities.
That’s the essence of redemption. We don’t receive forgiveness to wipe our slate clean so it can be dirtied again. We receive forgiveness so that we’re changed. And since we’re changed, we act differently. Since we’ve been given grace, we show it everywhere. I’m rooting for Alex Rodriguez because I’m rooting for grace. And his story is a picture of what we should all do when we receive grace.