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Love of the Game

Michael Jordan has been hailed by many as the greatest basketball player ever to play the game. Some say he is even the greatest athlete ever to play any game. With six NBA championships, five MVP trophies, two Olympic gold medals, and 14 All-Star game appearances, it is hard to argue against him.

I was amazed to watch him play during the twilight of his career. Although he did not fly around the court and dunk the ball repeatedly like he did in his younger days, he could still shoot. He would sit back and patiently wait for opportunities to fire and he rarely missed. He was not the tallest, fastest, or even the most athletic man on the court.  Yet, he rarely lost.  What made him great?

The answer may have been in his contract. You know that written agreement between the owners and players. Jordan's was one of a kind. And, no, it was not the money that made it unique.

NBA management made players sign agreements that forbid playing basketball outside the league. It was designed to protect their investments from injury. Jordan refused to sign the standard contract. He demanded a deal that allowed him to play basketball whenever and wherever he wanted. He wanted to freedom to play during summer leagues as well as pick up games at the local gyms. It has been called the "love of the game" clause. Jordan loved the game so much, he simply wanted to play all the time and he refused to allow anyone to tell him when and where he could play.

In a way, this is exactly what the Lord wants from His disciples. He wants us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:30.) This love is expressed through obedience and His commandments are not burdensome (1 Jn 5:3). Therefore a true follower obeys Him out of love.

Too many followers are looking for contracts that will limit their actions to the church building. They keep their "love" in the "church building" court and it is rarely seen outside the assembly.

When Jesus questioned Peter about love, He asked for more than just a commitment when everyone else was watching. He wanted sacrifice outside the assembly. He knew Peter would proudly proclaim his love around the brethren (Jn 13:37) but He wanted his love to be revealed in the dark alleys where Satan's agents were pressing him on all sides (Jn 18:25).

Like Jordan, we have a contract. However, our contract is not with an owner interested in money. Our covenant is with a Lord who is only interested in our hearts. The question is, "Do we really love Him and openly express our love for Him wherever and whenever we can?

My prayer is that all of us will have a "love of the Lord" clause in our lives. May our passion for Him outweigh any monetary or earthly gain. May we love Him in the assembly, but much more so outside this arena as we selflessly seek and serve the lost (Lk 19:10).

For His Cause,
Tim Woodward