I loved playing basketball growing up. I played lots of sports, but basketball held a special place in my heart. It was my favorite. Which is a funny thing to say when you are just a couple inches over five foot tall. After all, when you're that short in a sport filled with tall people, you have quite the disadvantage. On top of that, I pretty much was incapable of shooting three point shots. But my height or lack of three point shooting ability on the court didn't bother me. Honestly, it only motivated me to work smarter.
Let me start at the beginning.
The thing I loved about basketball was playing with my team.
It was a group of girls I had grown up with - several of us playing for close to 10 years together. There's something special about playing a sport that long together. You get to know the individuals on a completely different level. You know what their strengths and weaknesses in the game are. You know when they are holding back to conserve energy and when they have reached physical exhaustion and have nothing left to give. You know when to push them to dig deeper and when to give them grace. You know their patterns of what they do in different game situations and how they will respond.
You know them.
As a point guard, it's your job to see the entire court. You see the defenders. You see your teammates. You see the clock. You call the plays. But most of all - you see each person for what they bring to the table and you work that to the team's advantage.
And when that happens - it's something majestic to watch.
From the stands, you no longer watch a single point guard struggling to get the ball down the court by themselves surrounded by defenders or the tall offensive rebounder slacking on defense. You see a team working together. Passes seamlessly go back and forth breaking through the defense, picks create a passage for the point guard to get through a heavy wall of defenders, and full court pressure on defense stops the other team in its tracks.
Each player uses what they bring to the table for the betterment of the team and as a result, each player relies on the others. There's strength and unity in the diversity of talents and abilities as each player fulfills their specific role on the team.
When a team plays like that - it's more fun than words can describe. Because for those brief moments you work as one and whatever weaknesses you perceive in yourself disappear. But beyond that - there's a level of exhilaration that comes from knowing - this is how the team is supposed to function and it's an exciting thing to be a part of it.
Basketball and the Church
The concept of finding strength and unity in diversity goes beyond basketball. It applies to the Christian walk too. I'm not sure what exactly Paul was thinking about when he was explaining this in 1 Corinthians, but it definitely reminds me of my time playing basketball.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27...
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
As Christians, each one of us are part of one body... one team... one family. And we each bring something different to the table that we can use for the betterment of one another and for all of us as a whole. Praise God for that!
Maybe you feel like the five foot point guard - seemingly weaker - and maybe feeling like you don't measure up. But the truth of the matter is - you are indispensable. Why? God designed it that way. He created the body and each part needs the other because each part brings something to the table that the others need.
When we realize that -
when we each use our God-given talents, passions, and abilities for the betterment of each other, when we rely on others and work together as one...it's something majestic to watch.
There's a level of exhilaration that comes from knowing - this is how the body is supposed to function, and it's an exciting thing to be a part of it.
So what do you say?
Let's do this.