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Jackie Robinson was the first Afro-American to play major league baseball. Robinson had to face jeering fans in every stadium he played in because of the color of his skin.
I remember when I was in grammar school and I went with my dad and brothers to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs to play the Brooklyn Dodgers. I vividly remember the chorus of hateful voices that shouted profanities at Jackie Robinson. I can still remember the anger on so many faces all around me every time Jackie came up to bat.
Sometimes today I really wonder if we are going back to the days of Jackie Robinson with the racism that is brewing in our country.
Robinson was certainly held to a higher standard of play than the other white players. One day in Brooklyn he committed an error at second base. The fans began to ridicule him mercilessly. He stood there humiliated while almost all of the fans roared their boos.
Then something wonderful happened. Pee Wee Reese, the shortstop came over and stood next to Jackie. He put his arm around Jackie and stood there with him together facing the hostile crowd. Jackie was no longer alone and the fans quieted down.
Later in life, Jackie Robinson said that this act of Pee Wee Reese coming and standing with him saved his career and it gave him the strength to go on.
This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We are called to come alongside people, people we know and people we don’t know.
Jesus didn’t say, “Follow Christians,” he said, “Follow me!”.