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A Picture of the Gospel

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” – Galatians 5:4-6

Have you ever been involved in a pick up game of basketball with very competitive people who demand perfection with no room for grace? They seem to forget that it is a “pick-up game” with no set offense and no one has the slightest clue where the other person is going unless you see a random pick set from time to time.

I was involved in a game like this the other night with some of my friends from Scottsbluff. My wife, Julie was playing as well and during the course of one particular possession, instead of cutting to the basket, she cut to the top of the key. One of the guys on her team was not happy with this because to him it was clear that they would have had an easy two points if Julie would have cut to the basket and received his pass for the lay-up.

Time and time again, sports reveal our imperfections. Julie should have cut to the basket and by the world’s standards, if I were to have been perfect during that game, I would have made every shot I took. However, in all reality, I missed several shots and was not even close to being perfect. Later on, tempers started to flare as the game became increasingly physical. That was certainly not a picture of perfection.

As I left that night after our game, I was really bothered by the things I just described. As I took time to pray about what was bothering me, God in His incredible wisdom used this in a great way to show me how this night was a picuture of the Gospel. He brought this scripture in Galatians to mind along with the freedom that comes from Jesus changing our lives. I realized that I and everyone else out there playing that night was bound by their imperfection. They wanted to do everything right but the reality was that they were not perfect and there was little grace extended when someone made a mistake.

This is exactly what God inspired Paul to write about in the fifth chapter of Galatians when he states that there is no value in circumcision or uncircumcision. The only way to live a life that is honoring to God in all areas of our life is through faith in Christ, not by trying to be perfect out of our own power and strength. In our pride, I think this really bothers us because we think we should be able to accomplish the things we have messed up at on our own. However, the scripture goes on to say that the only thing that is worthwile is not only living our life by faith but expressing that faith through love. God has set us up in such a way that the only way we will be able experience freedom from our imperfections is by faith in Him, not only in basketball but in life.

So how does faith express itself through love in basketball? I know that Jesus had an incredible love for His father and everything He did was motivated by that. He was passionate and intense and focused when He went to the cross to die for us while all of the imperfect, sinful people around Him were spitting on Him, hurling insults at Him, whipping Him, etc. Sounds like a typical pick-up game does it not? Yet, that did not distract Him from His goal to glorify His father in heaven. Circumstances in basketball should not distract us from our goal to glorify God either. If the game becomes physical, our goal is still to glorify God. If we miss a shot, our goal is still to glorify God. If our teammate cuts to the key when they should have cut to the basket, our goal is to still glorify God. This is when basketball becomes more than just a game for fun, it becomes worship to the only God who is worthy. And that is when we experience freedom from our sin and imperfection. Praise God!

Nate Lewis
Western Nebraska FCA
Area Representative

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