Summary: A great basketball player knows where the goal is at and continually practices until his body instinctively know how to put the basket through the hoop. Knowing where the goal is important in any sport... and it’s important in Christianity as well.
OPEN: We opened with a youtube video that highlighted the basketball career of Bill Bradley. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_BJg4rhFNs (24 second begin… 3:25 end)
In 1964, Bill Bradley was captain of the Olympic Basketball team that won gold at Tokyo.
In 1965, his senior year at Princeton he led that University’s unremarkable team to place 3rd in the NCAA tournament behind UCLA and Michigan.
After college, Bradley went on to play professional basketball with the New York Knicks and earned a place in the professional Basketball Hall of Fame.
Bill Bradley was arguably one of the best basketball players of his day.
The story’s told that when Bradley was at Princeton, the basketball floor at the college was being refinished. So, he made arrangements to practice at a local high school gym. During his 1st practice at the high school gym, Bradley began shooting jump shots. To his amazement, his first 3 jump shots hit the back of the rim and bounced away.
A friend with Bradley said that Bill stopped for a moment. He looked up at the backboard and rim.
It appeared that Bradley made a mental adjustment. Then he picked up the basketball and began shooting again. After a few shots, he turned to his friend and told him “the rim is an inch and a half too low.”
A few days later his friend went back to the gym with a stepladder and a tape measure to find out if Bill was right. But he wasn’t. Bradley was wrong.
The rim was not an inch and a half too low.
It was an inch and a quarter too low.
APPLY: In the video we just watched, Corky Smith (a college basketball historian) said that “There were better athletes, better shooters, people with better technique.
Even Coach Bobbie Knight noted:
“He knew he had limited athletic ability, so he made himself into a tremendous basketball player.”
So, Bill Bradley was not the best athlete, best shooter and he had limited athletic ability BUT, he MADE himself into a basketball player???
How did he do that?
Well… he practiced.
He practiced everything.
And he practiced until he instinctively knew how to put that basketball thru that hoop.
Bradley was a perfectionist who had a set routine where he’d shoot a number of shots from one position, and then move on to another spot on the floor and shoot a series of shots from there.
And he kept at it over and over again until it became 2nd nature to him.
Bradley understood he couldn’t win a basketball game if he didn’t know where the basket was. So he repeatedly trained himself to know where the goal was from every point on the floor
APPLY: That’s true in basketball. In fact it’s true in any sport.
You can’t win a game if you don’t know where the basket is. Where goal is located.
And the same is true for us as Christians.
We can’t win for Jesus if we don’t know where the basket’s at.
So, what is our goal?
Where is the basket located?
ILLUS: I read about a denominational church sent the following report to their headquarters:
Number of members added by baptism 0
Number of members added by letter 0
Number of members dismissed by letter 5
Number of members who have died 3
Amount raised for home missions 0
Amount raised for foreign missions 0
The note at the bottom of the report read:
"Please pray for us, brethren, that we continue faithful unto the end."
Now that church was probably very religious.
That church membership was probably faithful to be in church every Sunday.
That church, probably paid their bills and kept the doors open.
They sang songs, took communion, listened to sermons… but they were not really doing anything for Jesus.
That church was like a basketball team that gets out on the floor and does nothing but pass the ball back and forth all the time… but never score. In fact, that’s why most college and professional basketball courts have shot clocks - because there are players who will do just that to slow down the game. They’ll just hang on to the ball… but they won’t do anything with it.
So, where’s the basket for us?
How do we know if we’ve “scored” for Jesus?
Well the first question should be: who’s the scorekeeper?
An official scorekeeper “adds” numbers to a team’s score as they make baskets.
So, who’s the one who keeps track of whether or not we’ve made a “basket?”
Notice what Acts 2:47 says “And the Lord ADDED to their number daily those who were being saved.”
God was keeping score. And His team on the floor was making baskets. They were doing something RIGHT, so God “added” to their score/number (adding those who were being saved)