Jackie Robinson and the Gospel

Ypsilanti Church - 42 movieJackie Robinson has become a family hero of ours. We were able to get to know his daughter, Sharon, a bit when our son won an essay contest in Jackie’s honor. The highlight for me was watching Sharon talk with the children of Ethan’s school answering all kinds of questions. She did so with grace and understanding. I was amazed by the stories. Leading up to Sharon coming we watched the Ken Burns episode on Baseball regarding the breaking of the color barrier. The stories are heartbreaking, encouraging, and you’re left jaw slacked.

Today 42 opens. It tells Jackie’s story of courage, courage not to fight back. We can’t wait to see it. I can’t wait to have the conversations after the film.

As I have been thinking about all of this again I have wondered, “If I were alive then, what side of the debate would I have fallen on?” It’s not easy.

27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:27-29, ESV)

It is my deepest hope that this passage would have been significant to me. These few verses in Galatians are instructive for us because they teach us that in Christ there is a unity. We all remain who we are but we have unity because we have put on Christ. In broader context here, Paul is teaching the Galatians that they need not become Jews to be followers of Jesus. Likewise, Jews need not become Gentile. The barriers are broken because both are in Christ.

wailing_wall_crowdThis passage was driven home to me a few years ago when I was in Israel. When you enter the Temple mount you enter by a raised walk way that gives you a view of the Wailing Wall. The wall area is divided. One side for men, one for women. They cannot worship together. They must be separated. I stood there overlooking this scene Galatians 3:27-29 flooded my heart.

The Gospel has not only reconciled humanity to God but humanity to itself.

I hope that 42 will raise good questions and discussion about who we are and about the continued brokenness between people. I hope that we will be able to have conversations about the gospel and how it reconciles people to God and people to people. I hope that this kind of reconciliation will become even more true of my own life and the various people who are a part of it.

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