Originally published in the April 2013 edition of the Covenant Courier
Many of us have been enjoying the thrill of the NCAA basketball tournament, the Big Dance, as it is popularly called. In the midst of the excitement over upset victories and the glories of astonishing feats of athletic prowess, one simple truth arises: the teams that advance are those teams that have consistently practiced the basic, boring fundamentals of the game. Flashy airborne dunks and risky three pointers excite the crowds, but they don’t win games. Games are won by boring free throws, well executed passing, simple layups on the breakaway.
Flashiness without basic discipline produces disaster.
Why do we say that doctors “practice” medicine and lawyers “practice” law? Because they are constantly honing their skills. The best keep returning to the basic skills. The great musicians put in hours of practice each day, just to keep their skills sharp. The best writers compose reams of work that will never be seen by another person, because it was a practice exercise.
Why should the spiritual life be any different?
What’s more, why should we as Christians approach the spiritual life as amateurs? We’re a kingdom of priests, we’re a holy nation. We’re not saved by Christ to be spiritual dabblers, tinkerers in our garages.
The Christian life is not a pickup basketball game – it is training for the tournament. The Christian life is a practice to which we are called.
And so let us recommit to those basic spiritual disciplines once again:
- The Worship of God, both in corporate worship and in private prayer,
- Bearing Witness to Christ by continually telling the story of His work in us,
- Diligent Study of God’s word so we may grow in grace,
- Sharing with other Christians in deep fellowship,
- Serving other people as a way of demonstrating the goodness of Christ,
- And exercising wise Stewardship of our time, our talents, our relationships, and our resources.
Brothers and sisters, let’s take inspiration from the great athletes of our day – let us keep practicing our faith on a daily basis. Let us rely on the Grace of Christ to strengthen us for these practices, to lead us in these practices, and to help us persevere in these practices.
Soli Deo Gloria