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I Used to Dunk a Basketball

By Jim Huskins

McDowell Countyjim huskins

 

Ancient wisdom contends that the world is composed of three types of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. The monument of the present circumstance insists that God’s people cannot afford the luxury of either of the latter two groups.

My adolescent aspirations included being 6’10” and playing for UNC. I found it impossible to make either goal happen, but basketball still consumed an inordinate portion of my youth. I was not talented, but I was taller than most. I have long arms, and I worked hard. I played through junior high, high school, and two years for my small Bible college. I thought I was devoted to the game, but I discovered otherwise.

Junior year found me at a larger school. Their excellent program needed no walk-on mediocrity. I filled my time with academics, music, and social life, and I looked forward to our first home game. The old rush grabbed me at the tip. I jumped up and cheered when one of our forwards drove that play to score. Soon afterward, however, my attention wandered. By half time I was bored. I walked out and never went back. I loved playing, but I discovered that I am not a spectator.

Unfortunately, “spectator” is an apt description of many spiritual lives. Church attendance is mostly watching. I cannot remember a time when “successful” churches were not defined by the scope of their facilities, the size of their budgets, the talent of their performers, and the qualifications of their professional staff. For the past thirty years, assemblies of the “most successful” congregations have approached uncanny resemblance to the Roman Coliseum. I find no Biblical mandate for a grandstand or bleachers in God’s Kingdom. Rather, we have a sixty-six-book instruction manual for how to play the game.

Our world has changed, but our commission has not. Our Captain and Commander still requires us to make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit and teach them to observe everything that He taught. That will never happen as long as “the team” is content to be entertained while warming the bench once or twice a week. The work of being and making disciples requires active commitment from every believer. “Let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

The notion that we can sit comfortably on the sidelines while our Leader requires us to take up execution stakes and imitate Him has always been ludicrous. As the world now flounders in a torrent of events which threatens to sweep away not only prosperity and decency, but also every significant liberty, God’s children must be found in the breach acting like Jesus. He ministered to those hungry, thirsty, estranged, naked, sick, and imprisoned. Most importantly, He built with His own perfection and suffering the bridge which reunites sin-cursed mankind with Holy God.

The cornerstone of His belief and practice—the secret of His success—is an uncompromising commitment to what is taught in the first five books of the Bible: The Torah. The only way we could have come to a spectator-oriented practice of Christianity is by ignoring those books. Jesus, Paul, and the other NT writers revered them.

Everything about the life and ministry of Jesus is, in the words of J.K. McKee, “Predicated upon the validity of Moses’ teaching.” I used to believe that “Jesus kept the law so that I do not have to.” It’s what I was taught. That false doctrine is based on a spurious notion that “the law” is some arbitrary set of standards God erected as a barrier between Himself and us. According to this view, He is now “satisfied” because “someone” finally ran that gauntlet successfully.

But the truth is that the Torah is God’s instructions for living. Grace is not an excuse for ignoring those instructions. Torah tells us how to love God with our entirety and our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus could not have been clearer on this topic. He did not remove even the smallest pen stroke from Torah. Why would He? As the Living Word of God, He was the one who gave Torah to Moses at Mt. Sinai. He does not change and neither does His teachings. Every day He gazes intently into my eyes and yours and says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

Pandemic and economic collapse may be—as politicians claim—mere hiccoughs on the path toward unimaginable peace and prosperity, or they may be outliers of the apocalypse. Either way, our job is the same. Coach wants us to get our butts off the bench and work the fundamentals. That starts with picking up the manual and reading it. Start at the beginning. The so-called New Testament makes no sense without the context of what God did for thousands of years before Jesus took flesh.

The manual says that revival will sweep the world in the last days. In John 4:34, Jesus tells us that His food is to do the will of the One who sent Him. How dare we seek nourishment from any other source? He goes on to say, “The reaper receives a reward and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper may rejoice together.” God’s fields are ripe. The harvest window is brief. God’s children must work to make it happen. Revelation 14:12 defines His children as those who keep His commandments and faith in Messiah. Believers who refuse to do both may find themselves on that Great Day wondering what happened.

Obedient Heart Fellowship believes that the entire Bible is true and relevant. We accept salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, and we attempt to love and serve Him by keeping his commandments. See Revelation 12:17. We will soon resume meeting each Sabbath—Seventh Day—in Marion. lostranger@mindspring.com

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Jim & Beverly Huskins are members of Obedient Heart Fellowship. You can read more from Jim HERE.

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