The two junior basketball teams I have been coaching this season have been playing finals this last two weeks. They have been excited by their achievements and the possibilities which finals offer. However, one comment made by one of our players during a break in the game was telling. As we were planning the next stage, they commented that the tall player on the other team wasnít very good and they didnít need to worry about her. I cautioned them, indicating that it only takes one basket to change the whole game.
we called a time-out a few minutes later, I pointed out that this player
ďthey didnít need to worry aboutĒ had scored one basket, taken two free
throws, and pulled down two rebounds in that last phase. Every player on
the team needs to be treated with respect, because they can all hurt us.
This was proved a little later in the game, when it was very close. For about two minutes the ball went up and down the floor, each team seeking that critical basket which would make the difference. It came from the most unexpected quarter, when one of our players Ė not a heavy scorer Ė pulled the ball out of a pack, turned and shot a clean basket. The game was broken, and our girls pulled away to win. Every player made their contribution to the win, not only in scoring, but in stopping others, making passes, and in encouraging.
It reminded me most strongly of the church, where often we place emphasis on the Ďstarí players, the gifts which are alluded to in 1 Corinthians 12 as Ďthe greater gifts.í Paul reminds the Corinthians that it isnít the parts with the most fame which are treated with respect, but those who are more vulnerable. He goes on to say that the whole rejoices when any part triumphs.
As we look to the church, we might not feel as though we are a person with a great deal to offer. We arenít preachers. We canít pray in public. We donít write worship songs, or sing them very well. We arenít great in our knowledge of scripture or theology. BUT, we are all bearers of the grace of God, and all capable of speaking His word.
The gospels are filled with unnamed people whose seemingly innocuous contributions are foundational for our understanding of Godís purposes. Who was the boy who gave his lunch to feed 5000? The woman who anointed Jesusí feet? The woman caught in adultery? The rich young ruler? Fleeting moments which are remembered for centuries, and which shape our understanding of Godís work.
No matter our gifts and talents, all are valuable in Godís sight and in the work of the Kingdom. The church needs the prayers, the insights, the words, the encouragement of all its members. Any one could turn the game!!
September 9, 2007