Saturday, June 27, 2015

Be Like Mike

He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.
-- Exodus 18:25

Love him or loathe him, LeBron James is arguably the best player in professional basketball these days. But if you followed the NBA in the 1980's and '90's, chances are that you were one of the millions who wanted to be like Mike.

The "Mike" in question is of course Basketball2Michael Jordan, one of the best (or perhaps the greatest) basketball players of all time. His astonishing career includes accolades as an NBA Rookie of the Year, a five-time NBA Most Valuable Player, a six-time NBA Champion and a 14-time NBA All-Star. When he retired after the 2002-03 season, the University of North Carolina graduate held the NBA's highest scoring average of 30.1 points per game.

Jordan's remarkable athleticism and talent combined to render an incredible Hall of Fame career that basketball fans will no doubt remember for decades. And his lead-by-example work ethic helped to bring the NBA championship to Chicago six times. Considering his outstanding qualifications, it's no surprise that the 6'6" superstar was a top NBA draft choice. After all, the scouts had good reason to suspect that Jordan would revolutionize the game.

That makes sense for building a successful sport team. On the other hand, God tends to pick His players--the Christ-followers around the world known as the Church--quite differently. His ways aren't mankind's ways. And He often chooses the least likely people to serve Him and accomplish the remarkable things that conventional wisdom deems impossible.

The Bible is full of familiar examples. Moses was a stutterer who once murdered an Egyptian taskmaster. King David--one of the most powerful rulers on Earth--was once an obscure shepherd boy. The Apostle Peter actually denied knowing Jesus three times in public. And Paul--the Apostle to the Gentiles who authored much of the New Testament--once dedicated himself to catching, arresting and killing Christians before the new faith could spread across the Roman Empire. Their common denominator? These real-life heroes were weak, either physically or spiritually. Unlikely is the way God likes it.

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength," writes the Apostle Paul. "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."

The point here is that we don't have to slam-dunk a basketball or score 30 points a game to make a big difference on the God Squad. In fact, every Christ-follower--strong or weak--is called to be Jesus' hands and feet on earth. As his servants, we're to help prepare our Creator's Kingdom by making the most of the various gifts and talents that He's given us. So rather than trying to be like Mike, we're to follow Jesus' perfect example of leadership.

"In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served," Jesus explains in Mark 10:45. "He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people." 

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