Mark Appel is a regular contributor to The Increase and will be providing monthly articles and opinions.
Community is so important. I know that who I surround myself with will influence and impact my own life, and in turn, I can have an impact on them as well. I greatly value the community of believers that I have found at my church. As a baseball player, it’s not always possible for me to physically be at church each Sunday, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a part of this community.
In the off-season I’m on the parking team at my church and our aim is to always show Jesus to other people. One theme that we really emphasize on this team is “keep showing up.” If you show up in the good times and bad times, when you feel like it and when you don’t, people will notice your faithfulness and joy—they will see Jesus in you. That’s what Jesus did; He was always showing grace, truth, and love to the people around Him. Even when people didn’t think they wanted Him there, He was faithful and kept showing up.
We too can be there to show up for people in small ways and in big ways. I try to be there for others, get to know them, and observe how to best serve and encourage them. Whether I’m at church, at the baseball field, or anywhere else, I want to show Jesus to others.
During the season, it can be hard to stay in touch with everyone from my church but I do have a community of guys that I connect with regularly through email and text chains. Though they are working when I’m free and I’m playing ball when they have the evenings off, we can still be there and encourage each other.
“For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.” —Colossians 2:5
This makes the community aspect of my faith journey difficult at times, but not impossible. It may be hard but it’s worth the effort to carve out time to stay in touch with people I care about who care about me. And there is also great community within baseball to grow with. One of my teammates and I are starting a Bible study this year so that whether we are on the road or at home, we strengthen each other in the Word and grow together in fellowship. I don’t know how many people will join our Bible study right away but we want to be obedient and faithful to what God is calling us to do.
It’s easy to find other Christians and develop some sort of clique, staying comfortable in your community, but I want to be intentional and really engage in the culture that God has placed me in. It’s about meeting people where they are so that I can show them the love and grace that Jesus has shown me. I have the Holy Spirit in me and I know that I can trust that the Lord will give me the strength to be a light to others. Whether or not they accept Christ right away or not, whether they come to Bible study or not, I hope that they will see the grace and truth of Jesus through my life and maybe, just maybe, they’ll start to ask questions. I want to be different; I want to be Jesus to others.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” —Matthew 5:16
To do this, I know that I need to grow continually in my own walk with Jesus. Though I’m not a morning person, I’ve seen what happens when I start my day off by diving into God’s Word. When I feed myself with God’s Word at the beginning of the day, I can chew on these truths throughout the day, knowing that God is with me in every moment and in any situation that I face.
View Mark’s Increase Profile here: https://theincreasebaseball.com/author/markappel/
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