An Acceptable Batting Average?

Okay, I’m no “sports enthusiast” (the quotation marks signify my somewhat snide observation that people, who are called sports enthusiasts, mainly participate by swigging beer on a Lay-Z-Boy), but just following popular culture has introduced me to the subject of batting averages. Furthermore, I am not all too fond of sports analogies, partly because I regard sports trivial at best, and a vehicle of chauvinistic provincialism and xenophobia at worst, partly because they tend to be too simplistic. On the other hand, their simplicity is what makes them useful. So there you are.

As a courtesy of those, who do not follow baseball or cricket enough to know, here is Wikipedia’s answer to what a batting average means in cricket or baseball. For those with slow bandwidth, in a nutshell: your batting average (in baseball) is the number of times you reach first base safely – because you hit the ball, not because of incompetent pitchers or basemen – divided by times at bat.

According to the same Wikipedia page, the all-time high batting averages are from the top: .367 (Ty Cobb, #1) to .342 (Babe Ruth, #9). In other words, if you reach first base 368 times in 1,000 times at bat, you will replace Ty Cobb as the #1 batter in baseball. Looking at it from the other side of the equation, this means that you strike out 632 times!

We are all aware that we are told to “confess and repent” in order to obtain forgiveness for our sins. However, not one single human being, with the sole exception of Jesus – as far as he can be considered mortal; I don’t know too much about that, but at least he “gave his life”, which means he died, which means he was mortal at least in one key aspect – has ever had a perfect record, or in other words, had a batting average of 1.0. Not even close.

I am all too aware that a stupid game is not the same thing as salvation. But… I still think there is a lesson here for us: You don’t have to have a perfect success rate to be considered good. For me there is a fundamental thing about realizing that. My personality makes me uncomfortably aware of my imperfections – and feel guilty about them.

I have interpreted the Faith vs. Works dialog in my own way (don’t we all?). For me, faith is what makes me want to do the right things (I think it’s a little presumptuous to talk about “good” works; I just try to do things I feel are right), and faith is what qualifies my actions: If my motivation is my love of God (in other words: Faith) and my fellow man, instead of some selfish motive, the Lord will be willing to forgive my failures.

I also like the Calvinist view that the way we live our life is an expression of faith more than a way for us to qualify for God’s mercy. That is precisely why it does not matter that I don’t find myself on the list all-time high batting averages. What matters is that I have faith and I put it to work. I have to do something with what I’ve been given (remember the parable of Talents).

This is, as I said, simplistic. But it is a way of trying to understand how our choices in everyday life relate to our salvation, seeing that no matter what, we will always be making mistakes. The Atonement of Christ was needed for at least these reasons:

  • Despite our best efforts, we fail.
  • There are those, who do not understand what they do sufficiently to be answerable to what they do (take little children, for example)
  • The Lord is actually merciful to even those, who don’t give a damn. Really. The Sons of Perdition will be shut out, but even they will, to some extent, be treated with mercy, because he loves them, too.

What is an acceptable batting average?

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Posted in Mormonism, Religion
4 comments on “An Acceptable Batting Average?
  1. Seth R. says:

    Kind of misses the point because even doing righteous works can be a form of rebellion against our Father.

    We do good works because we resent having to be reliant on Him. We figure that if we can keep all the rules, and do everything airtight, God will be forced to give us what we want.

    So it really has nothing to do with your “batting average.” It’s really only about how unified you are with God and whether you love Him as much as He loves you. Doing good things can be a part of that. But it can also be a barrier to that relationship.

  2. velska says:

    My point was, do we think that since we’ll never be perfect, we won’t even try? (Behind this is a number of discussions with other Christians telling me that I am lost because I think my good works will save me; that is just not what I believe.) So yes, I think it matters that we can accept our imperfection, because that can help us be more humble.

    Or, if you change the angle a bit, can I really do anything that is “good”? I mean that I want to do my best to show my appreciation of the gifts he has given me – and at the same time I know there is really nothing I can do for him. Except, perhaps, trying to treat my fellow creatures as if I loved them – and, just maybe, in the process learn something about love. See, my experience is, that when I try to do something for someone without a selfish motive, I learn to love the person – perhaps not with Christlike love, but still.

  3. Catania says:

    This is an interesting idea – “acceptable batting average” – and ANY batting average has the potential to be acceptable. The acceptability of our average is dependent on us – if we are willing to humble ourselves, repent, and take on the name of Christ.

    So, it doesn’t matter if we have a .367 batting average or a .160 batting average. The only way that it can be made perfect is through Christ.

    Now – I cannot give a personal answer, I think that is all between each of us and Jesus Christ. Only we can know what is and what isn’t our best.

    OH – and on your comment – our imperfection should be accepted, and it should make us humble – I agree because we need to rely on Christ. One of the best examples of this is Paul. He says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).

    This is not meant to deny the concept of works. Paul is probably the best example of the importance of works – as he fought the good fight…It is just important to remember that no matter how many “checks” we accumulate on that elusive list – it doesn’t matter. What matters is our willingness to submit to the Lord and accept His atonement.

    on a side note – I don’t mind the sports analogies. They can be very helpful. I think that there are a lot of people (myself included) who are well-rounded. We love sports, the gospel, art, etc.

  4. velska says:

    Right, it doesn’t really matter what our batting average is. What matters is that we are willing to let the Lord work through us. And that way, it will improve.

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