Along with many college basketball fans, I enjoy “March Madness” — the annual NCAA basketball tournament. From basketball, there are a number of analogies to the Christian life. Here are a few:
- “One-on-one” — when one player on offense is isolated with one player on defense. LeBron James in the NBA often does this to take the ball to the basket. In the Christian life, we need to learn to witness one-on-one. Many more people will come to Christ through all of our personal one-on-one witness than the work of any one evangelist or missionary. The biblical example is set in John, chapter 1, where one by one Andrew comes to Christ, then brings Peter to Christ, then Philip comes to Christ, and then Philip witnesses to Nathaniel, who comes to Christ — each of them through one-on-onewitness.
- “Upset” — Always in the NCAA basketball tournament there are upsets — where the underdog team upsets a greater team. Well, you and I are the underdogs — the little guy. And “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” We do not have greater power than Satan in and of ourselves, but through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit we do have greater power and can upset the world, the flesh and the devil against us.
- “Home court advantage” — While the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) and the NBA all permit home court advantage, the NCAA tournament does not. All their games are played on neutral courts. But what an advantage you and I have in the Christian life — if we utilize “home court advantage” by staying out of the wrong places, running with the right crowd and being in the right places. This does not mean we will not attack the “gates of hell” by being a witness in the world. But we need to prepare ourselves with Scripture and prayer, so that we always have “home court advantage.” I have seen this first-hand. Years ago a U.S. presidential candidate visited our church. The assembled national news media — network TV, AP, etc. — were all on their best behavior, because they were in a church. We had “home court advantage.” The AP reporter sought me out afterward to tell me how impressed he was that I preached the gospel and baptized while the candidate and the media all listened and waited.
We need to do all we can to be effective witnesses for Christ. Meanwhile, if you like basketball, enjoy “March Madness.” My alma mater, Ohio State, plays today (as I write this), and then hopefully again!