To carry the analogy further in demonstrating the similarities between Christianity and baseball, it is necessary to discuss the umpire(s). In baseball, there are different kinds of umpires. There are umpires at each base judging whether or not people are safe or out, whether someone made a catch or not, etc. Then there is the home plate umpire. He calls balls and strikes. He is the judge on whether or not a pitcher has thrown a strike or not. No one can argue with him either. If they do, they get ejected from the game. Do I really have to explain this analogy? The umpire is the legalist whistleblower that tells everyone else in Christendom what they are doing wrong. These are the modern day Pharisees that are so concerned about breaking the commands of God (good thing), they add commandments to the Bible, “teaching as doctrine the commands of men” (bad thing). They expand the strike zone, they make the calls they want, according to the rules they make and they cannot be challenged. Their self-righteousness keeps them safe behind the authority they have assumed for themselves and they feel justified in calling others “OUT”!
While there is merit in holding one another accountable to the standards of Scripture (Matthew 18; Galatians 6:1-3), the addition of personal preference is not allowed in the Scriptures or by Jesus.
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” (Matthew 23:13 ESV)
The gospel is the good news of the kingdom of God that has come in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The gospel points us to God in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in believing the gospel, our lives change at a fundamental level (2 Corinthians 5:17). Salvation in this gospel comes by grace alone through faith alone. While our lives do change, the change is a result of the gospel, not a cause.
So, as we seek to live the Christian life, our prayer is that God would be glorified in us, either by life or death (Philippians 1:20-21). Don’t blow the whistle or triumphantly hold your hand in the air, calling people out as if you are greater. Walk humbly with your God and with your team.