As news of the 2017 Astro’s Cheating Scandal Investigation came to light in January 2020, MLB players took to social media to express their opinions. Many of them are not suited to be posted on a ministry site, but the majority all shared the same sentiment.
“For the sake of the game I Hope this isn’t true.. if true, there needs to be major consequences to the players. That Completely ruins the integrity of the game!!!” - Cody Bellinger, LA Dodgers, 1B
“I would rather face a player that was taking steroids than face a player that knew every pitch that was coming.” - Alex Wood, LA Dodgers, P
“They shouldn’t feel comfortable looking at any of us in the eye let alone on the field and any other MLB player feel different, they can get it too.” - Mike Clevinger, Cleveland Indians, P
“What happened to the term ‘cheaters never prosper’?” - Evan Longoria, SF Giants, 3B
Cheating always, understandably, brings a lot of emotion with it. You work hard at something and then suddenly it gets stripped away from you by no fault of your own, and by someone that didn’t deserve it. When emotions are so high, it becomes increasingly important for us as ministers to be sure we are responding appropriately, and more importantly, how do we as disciple makers respond redemptively? So for the next few weeks, I want us to look at Cheating and Cheaters in the context of the Three Tier Paradigm. This week we are going to look at the Theology of Cheaters and Cheating. What is it that God has to say? To fully understand what God has to say in this matter, we need to go all the way back to the beginning, Genesis chapters 1 & 2. In the beginning, God creates everything with order and structure, and then places mankind in the garden to take care of it. God then gives them one rule, “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” - Genesis 2:16-17 One rule to follow, and if they do, God provides them with everything they need to not only survive, but to rule over the rest of creation. We know what happens next though, the serpent shows up and tells Eve “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” - Genesis 3:4-5 Look at what the serpent is really offering here, “you will be like God.” God already had given mankind the ability to do this. We were made in God’s image, given free access to Him, and had even been given authority to rule over Creation. But Satan offers another option to “achieve” the same status, even if it means violating the rules. This isn’t the only time we see this either. Look at what we see in Matthew 4:8-9. “Again, the Devil took Him (Jesus) to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And he said to Him, ‘I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.’” Satan is talking to an exhausted and hungry Jesus. Jesus, who has been preparing for the last 40 days and nights with prayer and fasting in the desert to begin His Messianic ministry. A ministry that He knows results in Him being tortured and killed, in order that He can rightfully take His place as the King of Kings. And what does Satan offer Him? A quick and painless way out. He can have His kingdoms, but without the work, the torture, or the death. Why is cheating a Theological issue, because cheating is sin. There is no other way to describe it. The idea that you can accomplish a goal, outside of the standards put forth by the creator, whether in life or athletics, is nothing short of sin. This is important for us to remember in the Sports Ministry world, especially. As long as there is something to be gained, there will be people that try and cheat their way to the top, even within a Discipleship focused league. So rather than trying to deny it, we need to figure out what we are to do when it rears its ugly head, both with the temptation to cheat and the cheaters that we encounter. We will look at this more in the coming weeks, as we continue through the three tiers, and look at both the Philosophical and Methodological sides to this all too common temptation.