Big Idea

Perseverance is tested through adversity.

Scene Setup

Jackie Robinson is the first African-American ball player to play in the all-white professional baseball league, thanks to Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey. His time has not been easy so far, though no one expected it to be. From the beginning, Mr. Rickey warned Jackie that he would have to keep his cool in situations that would test the farthest limits of his patience. And he was right. Throughout his journey, he has been chased out of his home, received death threats, and daily faced prejudice and racism both on and off the baseball field. But when he plays his first game against the Phillies, the vitriol reaches a never-before-seen high.

Topics

Persecution, Perseverance, Self-control, Turning the Other Cheek, Racism

Scene

Robinson walks up to the plate to an equal amount of cheers and boos. However, one voice rises above the crowd, and it’s coming from the Phillies’ dugout. Their manager, known for having a big mouth and a terrible temper, has begun to goad Jackie Robinson with obscene racial slurs. He signals to his pitcher to throw the ball high and outside, with the goal of hitting Robinson in the head. The animosity starts to come from his own bench too, when one of his teammates calls out, “Welcome to the big leagues, rook! Can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen, rook!” And from here, it only gets worse. The Phillies manager asks one of the white players what Robinson had to do for them to get onto the team, tells him to stay down when he dodges the baseball coming for his head, and when Robinson gets out on a pop fly, he begins to make fun of him for not being able to play. However, Mr. Rickey has confidence in Jackie’s ability to let it roll off his back. “Don’t worry,” he tells his assistant, “God built him to last.” (End 1:15:53). At Jackie’s next at bat, the insults only get worse. The “N” word is being thrown around more than the baseballs at this game, and he makes sexual innuendos, suggesting that Robinson is having an affair with one of the white player’s wives. He calls Jackie names, calls him lazy (and a number of other horrible things), and grows more and more vile. When he gets out on a pop fly again, he walks closer to Jackie, telling him, “You don’t belong here, nigger! You hear me? Why don’t you look in the mirror? This is a white man’s game. Alright? Get that through your thick, monkey skull!” Jackie faces him, holding his bat, and looks like he’s angry enough to beat the freckles off of him. But instead of giving in to his anger, he turns away, walks into the locker room hallway, and breaks his bat against the wall instead. He screams with frustration, and, as the bat splinters, he crumples into a heap on the floor.

Application

Jackie is being asked to do the impossible: stand down and stay calm while someone publicly screams at him some of the most atrocious insults ever heard. And he has the opportunity to do something about it too; Robinson knows that he’s faster and stronger than the Phillies manager, and could lash out (and win) if he wanted to. But he doesn’t. He stays silent and instead lets out his frustration in private, so that no one sees how much it gets to him. One of the most well known teachings in the Bible comes from Matthew 5:38-39, where Jesus tells his disciples to turn the other cheek when struck, instead of taking an eye for an eye. Jackie follows this commandment with nearly superhuman strength, but where can that strength come from? For us, we’re promised the power to overcome through Christ. Philippians 4:13 says that we can do -- meaning endure -- all things through Christ who strengthens us. The Bible encourages believers that though we face adversity in our lives, we can draw power and encouragement from the Lord. Peter tells us that our "fiery trials" are nothing unusual. We should expect testing. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that God’s power is made known in our weaknesses. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us to be strong and courageous, because the Lord is with us. These trials might not be as publicized or dramatic as breaking the color barrier in a nationally-renown sport, but we can still rely on the fact that God will give us the strength to push through, and push through well. Philippians 2:13 promises us that God will work in us, “giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” So in your trials, seek after God. Don’t rely on your own strength, because too often we fail ourselves. By making God’s power known through our weaknesses, we give others and ourselves the opportunity to see His glory in action. God is faithful, and he will give you the strength to overcome the trials sent your way.

 

Where To Find


Scriptures

Philippians 2:12-15

2 Corinthians 12:9

1 Peter 4:12-16

Philippians 4:11-13

Matthew 5:38-39


Video Times

Start: 1:13:09

End: 1:18:35 - can stop a


Keywords

Persecution, Persecute, Persevere, Perseverance, Self-control, Turning The Other Cheek, Racist, Racism, Revenge, Vengeance


Illustration Sermon General Warning

Use discretion and make sure the audience for this illustration is age appropriate: Extremely obscene, racist language, use extreme caution

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