Summary: Why we need to be in consistent fellowship with one another
Why I need you
March 13, 2005
This week, I’ve had basketball on the brain. I’ve fully recovered from the deep depression I was in after my alma mater lost in the last second, trying to get into their first NCAA tournament in 21 years.
But since I’ve been thinking about hoops this week, I wanted to start with a good basketball story I found.
This is by a writer named Mark DeVries, from a book called Family Based Youth Ministry:
---I have often wondered what would happen if basketball coaches approached their work like most pastors are expected to. For example, I wonder what would happen if when a player was too busy to show up for practice, the understanding coach simply said, “We’ll miss you. I hope you’ll be able to make it next week sometime.” Imagine the players leaving practice and hearing the smiling coach say, “Thanks for coming. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow.”
If a basketball team operated like a typical church, we might expect concerned parents to call the coach, saying, “Can you tell me what’s been going on in practice? My son says it’s boring, and he doesn’t want to come anymore. I was wondering, could you make it a little more fun for them? And by the way, you might want to talk to the coach at the school across town. He seems to have the right idea.” The coach might send out quarterly questionnaires about what the players would like to change about the team (I can just imagine the answers: “shorter practices,” “more winning”).
A coach, responding like a typical pastor, might first feel guilty that the practices were not meeting the boy’s needs, and he would try to adjust his program to suit this boy (and every other boy who complained). Between trying to keep everybody happy and giving every student a good experience, the coach would squeeze in a little basketball practice. And what kind of season would this coach have? It’s a safe bet that the coach wouldn’t be the only one who felt like a loser.
But this is the very way that most churches operate. To expect that people be committed to the church at the same level of commitment that would be expected on an athletic team would draw the charge of legalism. The expectation of commitment to the church has become implausible to most Christians. Because the god of individualism pressures us to program to the lowest common denominator, we seldom raise the expectations high enough for churchgoers to experience real community.
Real community means real responsibility for each other. It means a commitment to be there for each other even when the schedule is tight and when motivation is low. But the typical Christian adult in our culture knows little about commitment to community.---
Wouldn’t you agree that team sports require a level of commitment? Wouldn’t you agree that the best teams operate as a unit, working together toward a common goal? Each player fills the role that best helps the team to its goal of winning games. When one player either doesn’t show the commitment to the team, doesn’t show up to practice, or won’t fulfill his role, the team suffers, and sometimes it means that, even if the team has the most talented players, the team will still lose.
Michael Jordan was probably the best individual player to ever play the game, but until he began to work with teammates, to help them do their part, and until the team found players willing to accept the role that playing with a Michael Jordan demanded, all you had was a guy who could do amazing things on the basketball floor, but his team didn’t win consistently.
A good team works together like body parts work together in the human body. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes to his fellow believers in Corinth, using a metaphor, an illustration of the church, as the body of Christ. He compares us to a body, one body with many parts.
In verse 21, in the midst of this vivid comparison, which we’ll look at this morning,
Paul writes: “21The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don’t need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don’t need you!"
Combining that with our basketball analogy, we might say: the forward can’t say to the point guard, I don’t need you.
Thinking about this message for the past several weeks, I thought I sensed a direction for this morning, but then I also thought – you know, I’ve talked about this before. Maybe different verses of scripture...maybe different contexts, but the same basic theme. Why we need each other. Why we need to be in fellowship. Why we need to get, and to stay, connected. Why these things are not really an option for Christians.