Go Warriors!

The NBA playoffs have begun. The Golden State Warriors are vying for their second NBA Championship in a row. And when I think of basketball I think of………………Church! How about you?

When I entered in to “Probationary Ministry” for the United Methodist Church in 1990, I was ordained in the gym under the basket at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. Springfield College is the birthplace of basketball. As Bishop Skeete prayed for the power of The Holy Spirit to work in us and through us, I’m sure that the spirit of James Naismith was praying right along with the Bishop. Naismith, who was an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, was convinced that he could better exemplify the Christian life through sports than in the pulpit, he moved to Springfield, Mass., to serve as a physical-education instructor at the Young Men’s Christian Association’s International Training School for Christian Workers (now Springfield College). Naismith’s vision? “To win men for the Master through the gym.”

James Naismith believed that with good coaching basketball could produce the following results: “initiative, agility, accuracy, alertness, co-operation, skill, reflex judgment, speed, self-confidence, self-sacrifice, self-control, and sportsmanship.” He saw self-sacrifice as “a willingness to place the good of the team above one’s personal ambitions,” saying, “There is no place in basketball for the egotist.” Sportsmanship was described by Naismith as “playing the game vigorously, observing the rules definitely, accepting defeat gracefully, and winning courteously.” In short, basketball meant playing by the Golden Rule and loving your neighbor.

Today that Spirit of bringing “Others to the Master through the Gym” (OMG) is being carried forward by The Golden State Warriors and NBA League MVP- Stephen Curry. In a recent interview Curry reflected on his faith saying, “Looking back, my childhood was filled with the Lord’s presence. My parents raised us to believe in God, and we were at church every Sunday for services… God’s given me talents to play basketball for a living, but I still have to work hard to improve every day. I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is just a game that can be taken from me at any moment. But I love that basketball gives me the opportunities to do good things for people and to point them towards the Man who died for our sins on the cross. I know I have a place in heaven waiting for me because of Him, and that’s something no earthly prize or trophy could ever top.”

In spite of all the attention, Curry retains a sense of humility and balance rooted in one of his favorite Bible verses, Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” In an article he wrote that was posted on Breaking Christian News he says, “… I am just trying to use this stage to share how God has been a blessing to my life and how He can be the same in everyone else’s… There’s more to me than just this jersey I wear, and that’s Christ living inside of me.” He summed up his life in basketball and his life of faith this way, “I love to play the game, and I love when good things happen,” he said. “But when I get home, it’s about my family and just enjoying the blessings in my life without letting [basketball] define my personality or my character.” The time with my wife is huge so we can continue to grow and not be complacent with where we are in our walk with Christ. Obviously, we can all be better at that.”

Go Warriors! I’ll see you in Church.

Pastor Mark