If you're not cheating, you're not trying

If you're not cheating, you're not trying

In 1919, eight baseball players were banned from the major leagues for life because they took bribe money to lose a baseball game on purpose. Pete Rose, one of the best players of all time, is ineligible for the Hall of Fame because one time as a manager he made a bet on his own team. Now, the baseball world is finding out that the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros were cheating. Experts are now weighing in on what is an appropriate punishment, with some calling for the trophy to be taken back and some calling for leniency since “if you’re not cheating you’re not trying.”

If nothing else, the sports world provides a long list of metaphors for real life. That mindset, “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying,” isn’t just limited to the playing field. By cheating, people can hide some money from the taxman and keep a little (or a lot) extra for themselves. By cheating, political leaders can hold on to power a little bit longer. By cheating, a person can find excitement and passion in new places when their main relationship no longer gives it to them. But does this happen in church?

When we bring fake emotions on Sunday morning, we prevent people from giving us the support we need. When we don’t let our Sunday life and our Monday to Saturday life mix, both worlds miss out. When we hold back donation money just in case a fun purchase can be made, the Kingdom is weaker for it. We try to use wealth, success and happiness to make people like us. In the church, those things shouldn’t matter. When we cheat and we bring something other than our whole selves to the table, we all lose.

Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I repay them four times as much.” Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham. The Human One came to seek and save the lost.”
- Luke 19: 8-10 (CEB)

Will Loewen is pastor at Trinity Mennonite Church. Pictured above is Will with his son Sebastian, taken at the Healthy Boundaries Seminar in the fall. Photo by Helana Ball.