Before I get started on this let me preface by saying I am by no means an expert in the game of basketball. When I started watching basketball in 2012, it was because having graduated from College, I wanted to take up the challenge of another hobby. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. Those who know me know that I have never considered myself a sports person. But around that time, I met someone who was a basketball fanatic. So I joined her and supported her team. Yep, I was a bandwagonist. In addition to the company I had, I was routing for OKC back then because I was impressed by their athleticism, passion and apparent humility! I will always have them to thank for reeling me in! They played even better this year than they did back then.
I had eased off of following the game because before cable, I hardly watched TV. There was no way I was going to stream the games online. It was too much gymnastics. But after a while I decided I’d catch up. That’s when I caught up with #StephCurry. I’ve watched every YouTube video, read every article, listened to every speech I came across. One of my problems with sports has been that athletes often seem egotistical and arrogant. Those are generally qualities I have very little appreciation for. So naturally, I am drawn to those who have a reason to boast but who choose not to. But Steph has inspired me on other levels. I am inspired because he is unapologetically Christian and because He has demonstrated the tenacity and humble audacity that the sport demands. He is perhaps the most unselfish player on the court and has never been known to make a small thing of the accomplishments of others. But more than that, Steph Curry was not “supposed” to be here. He had the odds stacked against him, but he worked hard, and here he is. The more I read about Wardell Stephen Curry and his team, the more I liked what I saw. So for the first time, without anyone influencing my choice, I felt I’d found MY team. This year, I decided I’d make the effort to do more than follow updates. I did what I had to do to figure out how the times matched mine. And today, I am #DubNation win or lose, not just because they play well, but because I respect GSW.
So I can’t help but think about how much this game is teaching me about life, my relationship with Christ, and even about ministry.
I’ve been thinking about how we sometimes force people to jump on our bandwagon without giving them the opportunity to decide for themselves who they really want to play for. We raise up bandwagonists and nurture them so that they never fully commit. They learn the basic hashtags, but never really understand the history of the team or the coach. Unfortunately, sometimes we even count them as fans. Perhaps we even threaten them out of fear that they’d choose another team. We throw stats in their faces and we show them what happens to people who back team A or B.
I am a firm believer that our job as peers, parents and partners, is to give people the opportunity to see what it’s like to play the game. Invite them to Church. Take them along for the ride. Give them a chance to cheer. Then step back and allow them to do the research. Facilitate the process, but don’t try to reason them into cheering for your team. You’ve got to let them choose who they play for, just like God lets you. You are not responsible for enforcing truth; that’s Holy Spirit’s job. Your role is to share. And as people feed on knowledge, Holy Spirit will stir hunger. And with that, comes the desire for more. And just like I did, they will choose their team.
I think this applies to Christianity, politics, education – life. People who are reasoned into something, can easily be reasoned out – Bill Johnson (my paraphrase). But when we choose to play for God, we grow to experience Him in an amazing way! You could say what you want, but you can’t contend with my experience with God.