We talked with Miami Marlins pitcher Adam Conley about how he’s living in the increase of Christ, his faith journey, and the mentors that have impacted his life. Here’s what he had to say.
What effect does your faith have on your lifestyle?
There’s nothing I do today that is in any way similar to what I did pre-conversion. The Bible promises that when I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead, while recognizing myself as a sinner and choosing to deny the will of my own life and instead choose to do the will of the Father, I will have salvation through Jesus Christ and be given the Holy Spirit as a mediator on my behalf. I have been made a new creation. My outlook—my perspective on life and the value of comfort, money, status, fame, and everything else that the world sees as desirable—has completely changed because I’ve been given new desires by God’s design through His salvation.
Nobody told me that when I give my life to Christ, the Holy Spirit would come and change me. It was not me choosing to live in a better way, I am continually convicted by the Holy Spirit and led by His Word, which is changing my heart and desires. In fact, everything has changed for me.
Describe how your Journey with Christ began.
I lived my whole life a baseball player, wanting to do nothing else but play baseball. Up until I was 20 years old, I sought after this game with my heart, soul, strength, and mind. Along with my pursuit of being a baseball player, was my pursuit of taking on the persona of what I thought a baseball player’s life should be—I talked, walked, and acted in the way I thought the world expected baseball players to. This hindered my relationship with my parents, my brother, and my friends (who were really just guys that I partied with). I didn’t really have true relationships nor did I know what true relationships even looked like.
This all culminated in the last game of my sophomore season at Washington State. I had a great year, my draft status looked good, and everything seemed to be coming together for me. But my heart was riddled with sin—I was completely lost. In that last game, I had broken my pitching hand, leaving me with the questions, “Would I need surgery? Would my draft status be preserved going into my junior year?” The entire plan I had in place for my life seemed to be crumbling down before me. I was terrified.
I had almost no knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ, a single story in the Bible, what a church service looked like, or even what Christian song sounded like—I knew nothing about faith in Christ at all. Yet this was the only thing I had ever heard was permanent—the one thing that could never be taken away from you once you had it… So I made a decision right then. Upon hearing the Gospel clearly for the first time, I immediately dove headfirst into Christianity and into be a disciple of Jesus Christ. I had no idea what that meant, I didn’t know the cost of discipleship (Luke 9:57-62), and I had no idea that my life was about to drastically change. All I knew was that because I was going to heaven and that Jesus loves me, I could handle the fact that my hand was broken. Little did I know that Adam Conley’s life would be wrecked by Christianity, and I would have no regrets about that at all. In fact, as ironic and foolish as it would sound to the world, I had found my life by losing it.
The things of this world that I had thought would bring my security, comfort, and fame failed me. The Bible says that the message of the cross is foolishness to the world, but I am no longer of the world’s kingdom. I chose to be part of another kingdom that both is now and is to come, and with that choice is the security of knowing I will be spending eternity in paradise with my Creator.
Who have been the mentors in your life? How did God bring these people into your life?
When I was in high school, there was one man who constantly poured himself out to me even though I often didn’t listen to him. At the time I considered him more of a friend than a mentor, but He was a man who loved the Lord. He clung to his convictions of the Word of God and was a faithful servant to spread the Gospel to high schoolers. Through his ministry I got to know him and his family a lot, although nothing about his faith stuck with me. But many years later when I myself became a believer, I reached out to him immediately. He was the only other person I knew who was a believer and since I had no idea what this faith thing was about or what I was supposed to do, I reached out to him and he willingly discipled me.
I could go down the list, my wife and I have been so blessed with God’s favor on our life. He continues to refine and bless us, teaching us through His Word and the people He brings into our lives to bring us closer to Him.
What does the Increase of Christ mean to you?
Throughout the Bible we find people encountering the glory and presence of God. Moses saw the presence of God, though only from the back and through the small cleft of the rock because the fullness of God’s glory is too powerful. When Isaiah was in the smoke-filled temple and saw God lifted high with the train of His robes filling the temple, the first thing he said was, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5).
When in the presence of the Almighty God, the first thing that these men notice is God’s glory and the fact that He is set apart. The second thing they recognize is their brokenness and helplessness (and without Christ we are completely helpless).
When I think of the Increase of Christ I think of God’s glory because He is the one who is worthy of all the praise. He is the one who created us, and who sent His Son to die for us. With that knowledge, what I immediately have to recognize is that if Christ is to increase, I cannot make my life about my own comfort or my preferences. I cannot spread the Gospel in a way that is convenient for me because if Christ is going to increase then I need to continually deny myself and forfeit the will of my life so that I can submit to His.
The Bible tells us that there are two things that mark a Christian: the fruit they bear and the way that follow the will of the Father. If Christ is going to increase, than Christians ought to be dying to their own lives daily—they must be discipled, studying and meditating on the Word of God, praying to God, and being sanctified to be like Christ. We don’t get to both live the life that we want to live and be a part of growing God’s Kingdom.
It doesn’t matter how great my life is on earth, because the fact is that my life is just a small blink in the grand scheme of eternity. My life will pass away, but Christ will not. If I want to make a mark on this earth it won’t be by making Adam Conley known, it will be by the discipling of saints, and spreading the Good News of Christ.
It might cost you a lot, maybe even your whole life, to follow Christ. But it won’t cost you more to be with Christ than it did for Christ to save you.
What is your Life Verse? Why?
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” —1 Corinthians 1:18
This verse has given me a lot of clarity. There was a season of my faith when I wondered, “How I could know and experience such great peace through this great treasure that we have in Scripture, which God gives us to live life by, while other people don’t even want to know about it?” But more recently when I read this verse it stuck out to me that the message of the cross is foolishness to others.
The Bible gives us all the answers we need. It may not give us explicit answers for all the specific questions we have in our 2017 lives, but every word of the Gospel is literal, true, and applicable to 2017. God is an able communicator and can speak to us in any way that He chooses. He chose to give us His Word, inspired by the Spirit through faithful servants. This is something that I hold with extremely high esteem; I go to His Word because it has all the answers I need to learn from Him while also giving me the guidance to know how to speak to Him.
I learn how to act in this life by going to the Word of God and studying His character. If something in this life doesn’t align with God’s character than I follow His way. The Word of God is relevant today, it’s God’s way of communicating to me, and woe be to me if I don’t have my Bible open and be studying it continually.