Friday, September 10, 2010

The Case of Manny Not “Being Manny”

As an avid Boston Red Sox fan, I have to admit that I was intrigued by the possibility of the Red Sox potentially signing Manny Ramirez this summer. You may recall that Manny played for the Red Sox during most of the past decade and was the MVP of their World Series championship in 2004. He is also arguably considered the best right handed hitter to ever play the game.

After a long contract dispute to begin the 2008 season, Manny basically stopped playing for the team forcing them to trade him to the L.A. Dodgers mid-season. The rocky dispute between Manny, the Red Sox front office, and his teammates was covered ad nauseam for months. Red Sox fans felt spurned by Manny whose infantile behavior resulted from ill feelings toward management as both sides stalemated on a new contract. The emotions from that dispute have carried over the past two seasons as Manny and the Red Sox have played the game of “He said”, “He said” in the newspapers.

Given all this, you can imagine my surprise when I recently read the following ESPN headline, "Manny Ramirez: ‘My Fault’ for Boston Exit."

Manny had apparently granted an interview to “NESN Daily’’ host Uri Berenguer and told him he had become a born again Christian and spends his days reading the Bible. When asked about how his playing days ended in Boston, which included a fight with teammate Kevin Youkilis, he said, “I think everything was my fault. But, hey, you’ve got to be a real man to realize when you do wrong. Hey, it was my fault.”

I am not sure if I have ever heard Manny Ramirez publicly say that he was at fault about anything. His antics were so notorious in Boston that the media and fans used to excuse his disruptive and often boorish behavior by saying that’s “Manny just being Manny.” I know, sad but true. So, to hear him take full responsibility for one of the most heated feuds in Boston sports history is eye opening to say the least.

But then again the gospel is just that powerful too. For you see, when a person truly gives himself to the Lord and becomes born again the Bible states, “He is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) One of the first marks of a life changed by the power of Christ’s love is ownership for one’s behavior. Manny’s apology was not just an “I am sorry” statement. He took full responsibility for his actions and put the blame squarely on himself.

You may be wondering why a follower of Christ would immediately take ownership for his/her actions. It is because the cross represents ultimate and complete forgiveness for one’s sins – past, present, and future. When a person has been forgiven by Jesus Christ that same forgiveness is then transferred to others. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the Welsh Protestant minister, preacher, and medical doctor who was influential in the reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century, acutely understood this reciprocal nature of forgiveness when he stated, “I say to the glory of God and in utter humility that whenever I see myself before God and realize even something of what my blessed Lord has done for me, I am ready to forgive anybody anything.”

You see Christianity poses a personal Savior to forgive your sins and mine. In one sense Jesus did not die for the masses; He died for each and every person that comes to the cross asking for forgiveness for their own sins.

I do not know for certain if Manny’s profession of becoming a Christian is genuine or not as only the Lord knows the heart. But I would venture to say this, if Manny has indeed given his life to the Living God, than I, for one, will be praying/rooting harder for him in his daily walk with the Lord than I ever did when he was an outfielder for the Red Sox. Championship rings, multi-million dollar contracts, baseball records, the Hall of Fame - all of it will pass away one day and be remembered no more - but one’s relationship with the Savior will endure throughout eternity.

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