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Monday, June 3, 2013

Hoopstar Illustration...

It would seem he is from another planet.

That could explain his impossible ability to stay in the air for such extensive lengths. But more than obviously he is a human being created in the image of God just like any other human. 

But Michael Jordan is the epitome of a superstar, and he proved that beyond question in Game Five of the National Basketball Association finals June 11, 1997. 

Battling either flu or food poisoning, Michael somehow found the will to play 44 minutes of the contest, and unquestionably won the game (and, quite probably, the series and thus the championship) with a heroic effort.

His coach said he was nauseous and suffered "dizzy spells". His center said, "(Michael) was listless. He could barely sit up. I've never seen him like that, ever. I was amazed he could even go out and play." 

Immediately after the game Michael Jordan told an interviewer, "It's all about desire. You just have to come out and do what you have to do. Hopefully the team could rally around me. I was really tired, very weak; but somehow I found the energy to stay strong." 

I know nothing about Michael Jordan's spiritual state. I know nothing about his moral character. But I do know his effort in an ultimately meaningless basketball game is a picture of what all disciples of Jesus Christ should strive after.

One can be a "disciple" of anything or anyone. But Michael's commitment to basketball gives a tangible picture reflecting the attitude that should be reflected in the life of the apprentice of Jesus. 

Michael had the desire to play. His decision was to overcome, not to be over-whelmed. His effort that hot June night was predetermined by his commitment and practice and desire for excellence ever since he picked up a basketball as a child. 

The disciple of Christ must display and utilize the same desire. Luke 14 records an incident that clearly demonstrates the Lord Jesus never attended a contemporary "church growth institute." He wasn't real big on being sensitive to a seeker's felt needs. His itinerant ministry certainly wasn't infected by a committee seeking to make the work "user friendly." 

Verse 25 tells us that "great crowds were traveling with Jesus." When will we ever learn that whenever "Christianity" is popular, something is wrong? Will we believe that Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said "Wide is the road that leads to destruction, and narrow the path that leads to eternal life, and few there are that find it?" Jesus turns and thins out the crowd in verse 26 by declaring that the disciple's love for Christ must so far surpass his love for mate, children, career, life, that by comparison, any "human" love is hate. 


Many must have left on that note. Jesus persists in his crowd-thinning efforts by declaring the verse 27 that the disciple must be a "walking dead man." How hard it is for us to recognize that even we who live in lose "rights" the moment we become bondservants of the living Lord! 

In verse 33, Jesus makes a far from crowd-pleasing statement: "any of you who does not give up everything, he cannot be my disciple." 

Give up? 

That's not American! Besides, I don't want to give up, I want to name and claim, blab and grab. Yup, that's what I want to do. 

Perhaps it is not accidental that the middle letter in the word "sin" is "I." "I" want, "I" deserve, "I" need. 

The Christian life is not to be a party anymore that an NBA Championship game is supposed to be a tea party for tall men. I don't know how anyone can attempt to explain away the clear teachings of Christ in the passage cited, or in the many other examples throughout the Word. 

The Bible admonishes us to "..rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Romans 5:3, 4) I'm sure Jordan didn't always rejoice in the practice sessions or the weight room. But he recognized that there is truth in the tired cliche, "no pain, no gain." 

He also knew, from experience, that "suffering (practice) produces perseverance." And, at least as pertains to basketball, the next step is character, and all the Utah Jazz fans now know that when an exhausted and ill Michael Jordan took to the court on June 11, he had hope. And, according to Romans 5:5, "hope does not disappoint." 

Michael, my proverbial hat is off to you! I hope you have, or will get, a saving relationship with the One who gave you the basic equipment to do what you do. And thanks for giving me a profound example of what desire, dedication, and discipline are all about. Lord God, may I transfer into my life that example. 

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