The 2014 NBA Champions are… the San Antonio Spurs!
Yes I’m pretty happy that the Spurs won the NBA Finals. After watching them lose last year in heartbreaking fashion, I couldn’t help but root for them in their quest for basketball redemption.
And now, as I prepare to delete Game 5 from my DVR and put this season to rest, I find myself reflecting on how the Spurs can serve as a metaphor for the Christian life.
It’s the Body
The Spurs are known for their “system”. Encompassed within the system are unselfish play, sharing the ball, versatility, and depth – everyone accepts their roles and buys in. This team play, from starters to bench, was the primary reason the Spurs raced past the Heat and won the 2014 NBA Championship.
I love Kawhi Leonard, but he wasn’t the reason why the Spurs beat the Heat. The Spurs in total were the reason the Spurs beat LeBron, oops I meant the Heat. Everyone shared the ball, did their part, and this was what made the Spurs defense lock-down and their offense “the beautiful game”.
How much more so for us in the body of Christ? The body breaks down when certain members feel useless and other members carry too much of the load. God has given members specific spiritual gifts. Why? For the growth of the body and not for individual accomplishment.
Remember our excellent just-finished small group study. From 1 Cor 12, the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need for you, and neither can the head tell the feet thus. All the members must work together for the good of the body. Then, in 1 Cor 13, without serving each other in love, the greatest and flashiest of individual spiritual gifts all come to naught. Gifts are to serve the body towards the glory of God, and everyone is called to contribute.
You know, that’s another thing I appreciate about our church. From the plurality of our elders, to our team of deacons, to our ministry staff and leaders, we don’t play iso church. Our elders take turns going on sabbatical, and the church continues to meet, worship, and grow.
And talk about player development. We as members have an abundance of opportunities to grow – grow in studying the Bible, Biblical counseling, Biblical parenting, and even Biblical grilling and coffee-making? Small group leaders are home-grown from small group members stepping up to lead. Our children’s ministry depends not only on a team of established teachers, but also on parent volunteers who are plugged into the rotation and college students who sign up to serve.
Everyone shares the ball, plays important minutes, and the Body functions at the highest level when everyone buys in.
To the Ends of the Earth
The Spurs have the most diverse roster in the NBA. This was never more evident than in their Championship celebration. Players wrapped flags from France, Argentina, Australia, Italy, Canada, and Brazil around their shoulders. This was not by accident. R.C. Buford and his team traveled the globe in order to recruit talent. The Spurs system, with all its passing and cutting, draws from best practices from continents around the globe. Thus, basketball, which originated from the U.S., spread forth to countries far and wide, conversely to be enriched by global interpretation and talent.
And so it is with the body of Christ. We are called to go to the ends of the Earth with the greatest message of all – the restoration of our relationship with God through the gospel of Christ. As our church commissions short-term missions teams and long-term missionaries, we, the local church, become enriched with a bigger, grander picture of the Great Commission. Members go forth and bring back testimonies of God’s faithfulness from Thailand, Kenya, Mexico, and beyond. They bring back first-person witnesses of God’s heart for peoples all around the world. Our international students bring the ends of the earth to our own coffee house. And we, the church, are blessed. The gospel does not go forth empty – it comes back bearing a fruitful harvest.
Hard-Pressed but Not Crushed
This season’s Spurs have been so impressive because they could have crumbled after their heartbreaking loss. They could have drowned in the thought that last year was their last best chance. But they didn’t.
Picking themselves off the mat? Check. Year-long focus? Check. Ripping through the season at a high clip? Check.
How? Their hope spurred them on. The Spurs believed they could make it all the way back and claim what they let slip through their fingers – the NBA Championship. Assurance in this hope prompted Tim Duncan to call his own shot and say, “We’re going to get it done this time.”
How much more for us? Not many of us would choose to go through trials and suffering. We wouldn’t willingly put ourselves through the wringer. Yet how many times have we been exhorted to look upon our trials from a Biblical, eternal perspective and rejoice in our suffering? How does the impossible becomes possible? With hope in the one who is faithful.
Possible job relocation? God’s got me. Lost my patience again with my two increasingly complicated children? (Completely hypothetical, of course) I can bring it to the cross. Being persecuted by an unfair boss or family member? I can love them. Whatever trials come our way, God promises to use them for the good of those who love Him. It may not look like what we envision, with our limited court vision, but trusting in God through trials of every kind can bring us to the ultimate W – greater knowledge and faith in the one who called us according to His purpose.
So you might think I must be rooting for the Spurs to win their first back to back NBA Finals next year, because well, Kawhi-not? But to tell you the truth, I’m not so sure. Because, you see, the number one reason I was a huge fan this year was for the storyline of redemption – for the team to go from loss to triumph. Well, the Spurs won the 2014 NBA Finals. Their quest for redemption is complete.
As for us, our journey continues. Our journey that began at the cross, is finished with the cross, also continues at the cross. Whatever season we may be going through – the grind of the regular season or the pressure of the playoffs – may we come to the cross. At the cross, we are reminded that Christ has completed the work of redemption, that Jesus paid it all. And that assures us of victory.
We can call our own shot. Our championship is assured.
And may we, the church, spur each other on.
Annie Chung and her two girls, Audrey and Elise, have been blessed to call Lighthouse home for going on five years. A teacher by day, Annie enjoys serving in the K/1st class of Children’s Ministry. She find great encouragement in walking alongside sisters going through trials and from her accountability and Bible study groups. Annie counts musical worship, sports, and home baked treats as some of her favorite things.