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by Randy Becton

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    Sometimes courage is very quiet. When I was a little boy, only three years old, Jackie Robinson was playing his first year in major league baseball. Jackie was the first African American player to break the major leagues’ color barrier, and during his first year he hardly even opened his mouth. He never argued with an umpire’s call, he didn’t get into any fights... he was the quietest, politest player anyone could be.

    And his behavior ran completely opposite his natural personality! He liked action, rough-and-tumble, giving it and taking it, yelling, taking charge! You have to wonder how he ever was able to control himself that first year, especially in the face of the taunting he endured and hateful action that he couldn’t respond to. He was not just the only black player in the game, but he carried the additional burden of having to be a good player and a nice man all at the same time, so that all of the other black players would be granted their chance to play ball in the big leagues.

    Jackie had already been to college at UCLA, had been a Pacific Coast conference all-star in football, basketball, and track — holding a national junior College record in the broad jump. He was a cultured gentleman who was frequently ridiculed by “village idiots,” men who were racially prejudiced.

    Branch Rickey, then president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, warned Jackie that he could not lose his temper that first year. “You must take every insult, every nasty name, every dirty play and do it without showing anger, temper or even resentment.” Jackie had to turn the other check, and keep it turned all season long.

    When Rickey told him this, Robinson didn’t like it, firing back, “Do you want a ballplayer who’s afraid to fight?”

    Rickey shouted, “I want a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back!”

    That first year, Jackie broke the color line all the while knowing that if he lost his temper the barrier would have gone right back up again. He had two hard tasks: to prove quickly he was a good ballplayer and to prove he could take being treated badly. He had to act gentle and quiet even though critics called him a coward. He heard words like: yellow, scared, and chicken.

    He did all this not just for himself, but also for the future good of African American players in major league baseball.

Where did his strength come from to endure? Who was his role model?
    Other ballplayers deliberately spiked him, elbowed him, and said insulting things. I can’t imagine the cruelty and the incredible self-control Jackie exhibited. But, his years of endurance, his quiet courage became known some years later. Jackie’s autobiography, I Never Had It Made, tells some of the story, but those who watched him — some who were his teammates — saw the life lived before them. They knew they were playing with not just an outstanding baseball player, but also a man of great strength of character. Most of the great black players who followed him saluted his long, lonely struggle and credited him with making their road better.

    Robinson’s year of misery, his first in the major leagues, grew out of prejudice and bias. No fair-minded journalist has pointed to any action of Robinson that warranted the ugly things said to him or done to him. Where did his strength come from to endure? Who was his role model?

    Was it Jesus?

    Peter says he suffered for us leaving us an example that we should follow in his steps. To be specific Peter reminds his readers that Jesus didn’t retaliate, made no threats — in other words, He Just Took It — and those who care about God’s approval will do it his way (1 Peter 2:18-24). Jesus completely identified with a person like Jackie Robinson for he was well acquainted with snubs, rebuffs, rejections, threats, and hatred.

    When Jackie Robinson died, his wife Rachel and his daughter Sharon and son David were flooded with testimony how one man’s quiet courage, sacrificial love, and principled example as a leader of integrity had lit the flame in thousands and thousands of young Americans — black, brown, and white — to fight evil with courageous love. He passed along what his dear mother had taught him about serving the one who came to serve us. He followed Jesus’ example.

    Jesus had a strong spirit and could have resisted giving his life for the redemption of others. So that mankind would always know, Jesus said that he laid down his life willingly; it was not taken by force from him. In a world ruled by power of military strength and monetary power, Jesus’ way of taking the worst blows Satan could muster and then calmly waiting for God’s validation may appear weak. However love, the redeeming love of Jesus, is the strongest power in human history. Born into a world controlled by abusive power, Jesus’ love was shown in His life of service and His cross of sacrifice which brought us back to God.


Are you presently experiencing a new life? God’s word says, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” This new life is a free gift of God through faith Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about this life that only Jesus can give you, sign up for one of our Bible courses. Wherever you are in life, whatever you’ve done, you can begin again. You may also contact Randy Becton at rbecton@heraldoftruth.org if you have questions about becoming a new creation.

 
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      © 2003, Herald of Truth and Randy Becton, Herald of Truth. Used by permission.

      Title: ""
      Author: Randy Becton
      Publication Date: May 14, 2003


 
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