All our lives we have heard about the importance of the basics.
“Keep your eye on the ball!”
“Use both hands to catch the ball!”
“Run through the base!”
I was asked to take a coaching position a few years back (I was unable to do it because of my schedule) and I instantly began formulating a coaching strategy. I decided it would be my goal to drill three things into the hearts and minds of the team.
- Sportsmanship above all else. No disrespecting the other team, no back-talking to coaches or refs, shaking hands with the other team (win or lose), and even complimenting the other team or assisting them if they fell or were injured.
- Fundamentals in everything. The ABC’s. Like Norman Dale in the movie Hoosiers. Drill, drill, drill. It was even in my head not to let them touch a basketball for the first two weeks of practice. To run and condition without the ball. That would really test their meddle.
- Playing mistake free. Don’t make bad passes, only shoot when you’re open, pass the ball four times on every offensive possession.
These are largely foreign practices in sports today, particularly at the college and professional level. I am convinced that if those concepts were followed any team, in any sport, at any level would show noticeable improvement.
I don’t think the idea of learning the fundamentals is lost as a concept, but it sure seems to have been put on the back burner when it comes to practical application.
I am going to visit the idea of Christian Fundamentals this week in Jim Class this week.
Last Sunday during my sermon I made a statement that I’m confident was inspired by the Holy Spirit.
I said, “You will not be able to do what Jesus did until you do what Jesus did!”
I referenced John 14:12 in my sermon, which tells us, John 14:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” (NKJV)
I wholeheartedly believe this to be true, but I don’t believe people are going to get there by osmosis. You can’t just rub the Bible on your forehead and have the truth of God’s Word jump into your memory banks.
We’re told repeatedly to study and meditate on the scriptures, Joshua 1:8 being the preeminent reference, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but youshall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (NKJV)
(Also see II Timothy 2:15 and Philippians 4:8-9)
My point is this, Jesus must have had some practices in His life on Earth that enabled Him to be able to tap into what God has clearly provided for His people. Let’s look at three of those practices (pun intended) and call them the base paths.
Luke 4: 31 Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. 32 And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. (NKJV)
Luke 2: 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. (NKJV)
Why were the people astonished at the words of Jesus? Even the leaders of the temple found what He said as an eleven-year-old to be impressive.
What draws you to certain preachers and teachers? For me it is usually a mastery of the Bible. I’m drawn to their ability to expound on things in scripture and make them interesting and, more importantly, make me want to hear more.
I believe it’s clear that Jesus had a deeper understanding of the scriptures. Not because He was the Son of God, but because He spent time meditating on God’s Word, as we all should.
I emphatically believe that time in God’s Word is required to walk the walk to which we are called as Christians. This has to be first base. But there are other factors as well.
Luke 4: 16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. (NKJV)
Second base is church attendance. Jesus wnet to church, “as His custom was.” We could also say, “as He regularly did,” or “as His habit was.” This verse also combines point one, “and (He) stood up to read.”
I don’t think it highly likely Jesus would have been given the opportunity to stand up and read in the synagogue had He not been known to have a good grasp of the scriptures.
We’ve rounded second and are heading toward the hot corner.
Luke 5:15 However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. 16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. (NKJV)
This tells us that He ‘often’ went into the wilderness to pray. The word wilderness here means, “solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited,” according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
He spent the vast majority of His waking hours around people. It would seem that there were commonly thousands of people around Him to hear His teachings or to receive a healing touch from Him or, in the case of the ruling council of the day, to catch Him in some sort of wrongdoing
This had to be exhausting. But His solution wasn’t an afternoon nap, or a stroll on the beach. He intentionally went off to an isolated place and spent some time in prayer. In communication with His father. Talking to God.
So, to continue the baseball analogy, third base is prayer. And, if first and second are going to church and reading/studying the Bible, what is home?
From my perspective, and to thoroughly overuse baseball analogies, home plate is filling the seats. Reaching the people with the Gospel in order to rescue as many as possible from the depths of Hell.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson used an excellent tie-in along these lines when he eulogized the great Jackie Robinson who accomplished much as a professional baseball player.
One of those accomplishments is that he is in the top ten for most times stealing home, the hardest base to steal. He is also the only Major Leaguer to steal home in a World Series.
Rev. Jackson made the comment during Robinson’s funeral that he was, “safe at home.”
Our goal as Christians should be to get as many people as we can, “safe at home.” And, to get home, you have to cross first, second, and third!