Fake Jesus Followers

Major League Baseball began last night. The Dodgers filled the area behind the backstop with fake fans. That is, cardboard cutouts of people who, evidently, paid for their unreal likenesses to be positioned there. It’s an interesting concept, to say the least. Professional teams are trying to make the game experience for the players as real as possible with piped-in fake crowd noise, public address system announcer, well-groomed fields, and the national anthem. Dr. Fauci threw out the first ball for a Nationals’ game!

The only things missing are the vendors yelling “Beer” as they stroll up and down the aisles, high-fives with a player who hits a home run, and the criminal price that is charged to park at the stadiums. The Oakland A’s even had Tom Hanks be the voice for a virtual hot dog vendor.

For someone to be there, but to not really be there, for a Dodgers home game, will cost the fake fan $299. That’s the price to be in one of those unique field level seats right behind home plate. And, I noticed it was crowded! You don’t have to worry about social distancing if you’re a cardboard cutout.

The Red Sox are charging $500 for someone’s cutout to be positioned above the Green Monster in left field for a portion of the season. The money goes to their foundation. If a home run hits the cutout, the “hit fan” will receive two tickets to a 2021 home game and an autographed baseball. It’s kinda’ like that carnival game with the dolls that a person tries to knock down with a baseball.

It got me thinking about Jesus and a teaching session he had in the 6th chapter of the gospel of John. He talked about being the bread of life and some of his followers found it to be such a hard saying/teaching that they didn’t renew their season tickets…er, that is, they no longer followed him. The season became too tough, too much of a downer. They could no longer put their heart, mind, and soul into following the carpenter from Nazareth.

Cutouts of real people at baseball games is an analogy of Jesus followers in the midst of a crisis. They’re there, but not really. They’ll be back when God gets back to blessing them with problem-free lives, jobs free from stress and worry, and the sanctuary has only smiling faces and the sounds of laughter.

Maybe that sounds cynical…okay, it does sound cynical…but a ballpark with unreal people seems a few steps away from reality. It’s like the sports industry is pretending it’s business as usual. We can pretend like that in church, also, because the book of Lamentations doesn’t fit into the personal theologies of a number of folk.

close up photography of four baseballs on green lawn grasses

Photo by Steshka Willems on Pexels.com

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