I Like Basketball!

   I will not apologize for enjoying the game of basketball! I’ve enjoyed it for years though I never played it very well. (The only two points I ever scored, I scored for the wrong team as I rebounded the ball and promptly returned it to the hoop for two points!) I’m old enough to remember basketball without the “three-point shot,” a very narrow “key” (they call it “the paint” nowadays), no time clock, and very skimpy uniforms. I played in grade school, then tried out for the team in high school (and ended up being the manager for one year). I’ve “coached” little league basketball, attended lots of high school and college games and a few professional league games. I remember when the Big-Ten had only ten teams. Though born and raised in Ohio, and remember the Buckeyes with players like John Havlicek, Gary Brad, and a man named Bobby Knight, my favorite team has been the Hoosiers for many years (even when they’ve done poorly). Therefore, it should come as no surprise that “March Madness” is an “enjoyment” for me!

   Some years ago, while being the supervisor for Study Skills and Strategies at Eastern Greene Middle School, I was “somewhat” persuasive in convincing the administration and teachers that “March Madness” could be used as classwork. We could teach the history of basketball starting with Dr. Naismith and his peach baskets, research the science of how basketballs bounce and include the study of villosity and range, study the angles of passing and shooting and of course the statistics for mathematics, and even use the communications of players and coaches as English grammar (proper and improper, as the case may be.)

   The game has changed in several ways through the years. Rules have been added and subtracted. Even sportsmanship has changed. “Trash talking” used to result in ejection from the game (usually by the coach who taught the players, “You represent the school. Act respectable!”) Players credited “team play” for success rather than sheer individual talent.   

   Obviously, basketball on any level has nothing to do with the salvation of our souls! In fact, obsessions with the game can and no doubt have cost some their eternity with God, for they have forsaken Him to appease their appetite for the game. Yes, I’ve known congregations to “cancel services” because the “home team” had a game on Wednesday night! As well, I’ve known some Christians to be listening to a game on their very small transistor radios (before cell phones) during bible study! Now I ask you, what basketball game is of more critical importance than the increase of faith, and preparation for judgment?

   What if as much enthusiasm were placed into being diligent servants of God; what changes would we see? Would faithfulness become “seasonal?” Remember, basketball has become a year-round sport when you include physical training, the reviewing of scouting reports, the study of offense and defense, and the learning of team play and the importance of individual roles in the game. Except for illness or injury, dedicated players never take a day off from endeavoring to improve their abilities. Are Christians as diligent with improving their abilities, their understanding, their fellowship with the saints, and their individual roles in upholding the righteousness of the local work?

   There are no “rule changes” in the church. God, through Christ Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2) and the guidance of the Spirit (Hebrews 2:1-4), have given us the “rule book” and it will not change! (John 12:48)

   There are no “red-shirts” in the Lord’s church, but there are those who need to learn from those who have been in the battle against sin, and in defense of the gospel. While the more experienced tend to lead others, the opportunity is afforded those in the Kingdom with much less experience to learn, develop and serve. Wise congregations look as much to the future of their work as they do to the present. They realize the need for elders, deacons, preachers, teachers, and the development of each soul, that the work in that locality may continue for years without faltering. Yes, many will experience “losing seasons” from time to time, but they will never remain satisfied with such a reality! They are consistently taking the gospel to the lost, encouraging reading, studying, learning, and obedience to the truth!

   Basketball is a sport. The Lord’s church is not! Unfortunately, too many who claim to be Christians treat the Lord’s church as if it were some sort of “sport” and permit their allegiance to waver! The Lord calls such action SIN! (Hebrews 10:23; James 1: 5 – 7) We’re either for Him or against Him (Matthew 12:40). While there may well be some “individual talent” in any local work, it is BODY OF CHRIST that is credited with success! Therefore, true respect for WHO we serve is tantamount to our life! (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:1-4)

   With basketball, once the tournaments end, each division crowns but one as victorious. With Christ and His church, each faithful soul is crowned with victory! (Revelation 2:10; Philippians 3:14; 2 Timothy 4:8) Many of us have been a part of this kingdom for many years. We’re still improving as we come nearer to the end of the race. Still, we keep our eyes upon the finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2), that we might follow Him, and enjoy the blessings of heaven eternal when this world comes to its close!