As teams report to spring training and gear up for the upcoming baseball season, there isn’t a player or coach that isn’t aware of the impact that Jackie Robinson made on the game of baseball. Along with the visionary help of the General Manager for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, Robinson would help change the game of baseball. Their story is told through the movie 42. Both men were Christians and had a faith that helped them to have the courage and stamina to carry out the calling God placed on their lives. Four years ago, Risen sat down with Chadwick Boseman, who plays Robinson, and talked about Robinson’s Christian faith and the importance of role models.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-25
Chadwick Boseman reflects on Jackie Robinson’s Christian background and how a phrase he would often say, “God built me to last,” shaped his outlook.
“I think Jackie Robinson’s religion – his spirituality – is what helped him to endure this. There is no doubt about it. Because he believed in God, he believed that there was certain providence [ in his life,] in him being chosen, in the timing…many are called, but few are chosen…One of the fruits of the [Holy] Spirit is self-control [referencing Galatians 5:22-23]. He had to have all of them [the fruits] – patience, love, gentleness, brotherly kindness, charity – but the self-control comes from going through the fire [tough times and tribulation]. I feel like it’s because he had God in him that he was able to make it through this.”
“Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” Titus 2:6-8
Boseman shares how many look up to Robinson as a role model and who has been a role model in his personal life.
“My parents are definitely role models. I’ve had [role model] teachers and coaches, to be honest with you; I have a lot of them. I think you just look for people that stand for something. They are willing to give their life for something they believe in. I think that is key.”
Be a role model. Whether you are playing sports, in the classroom, in the office or running a house hold, there are people all around you that look up to you. As followers of Christ, we are to represent his character and love to others. Pray and ask God if there is a person in your life that He wants you to mentor. It might be someone in your small group, on a sports team, or in your office. Be open to who he wants you to reach out to. Remember you don’t have to have it all together and neither will the person that you mentor. Just as much as you are sharing and teaching them, God wants to teach you. Ask God to show you lessons or maybe a devotional that he wants you to share with them.
Be different. It is okay to be different. God made each of us unique. Whether it is our skin tone, where we grew up, our profession, our likes, our dislikes, no two people are the same. Embrace others for their differences. When it comes to people’s view points and beliefs, they might not have the same ones as you, but it is still important to love them. Loving someone doesn’t mean that you have to agree with their beliefs. Take time this week and pray for someone or a group that is different than you. It could be someone at school, a clique at work, or a mom on the playground that no one talks to. Ask God to help you see them how he sees them, with love compassion and mercy.
Be Spirit-filled. When we ask Christ into our lives, we receive the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, we have the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, mercy and self-control. If you are having a hard time living one or all of them out, pray and ask God to help you. Ask a close friend or small group member to hold you accountable if certain situations are more difficult to display the character of Christ. Often times, God gives us trials and experiences that refine our character and make us more like him.