2/3/2021 – Pastor Brian’s Blog –

I was in the 6th grade when our grammar school, for the first time ever, had a basketball team. I wanted nothing more than to be on that team. Now we did not have a gym to play in, so we had to practice outside. Many days we had to shovel the snow off the court after school in order to practice. It was cold too, so every 5 minutes someone would run into the school, place the basketball on the radiator and bring out a warm basketball, otherwise the cold ball would dribble like a brick!!

Because we did not have a gym, every game for us was an away game. So my mom, and other moms, would show up after school, and we would pile into their cars so our moms could drive us to our games. If you got to ride with the right mom, you would even get to stop at the store on the way home.

The next year we had an upgrade: someone gave us an old barn to play in. So during the summer we took out all the stalls, scraped off all the cow & horse “droppings” from the floor and put up two basketball rims. There was no heat in the barn, but a least we no longer had to shovel snow. The old and uneven wooden floor even helped us to become better ball handlers because you never knew for sure how the ball would bounce, and having to shoot over the wooden beams, helped us to get our shots high enough so we rarely were ever blocked.

My motivation to play basketball was to become a basketball player like Bill Russell. I would practice my hook shot like Bill Russell; I would try and block shots like Bill Russell did. I wanted to play center like Bill Russell. I even asked to have Bill Russell’s number 6 for my jersey. Many nights I would sit in our upstairs living room, with the lights out, in a rocking chair, and I would listen to the radio as Johnny Most would give the play by play of the Celtics game. While I listened I would visualize myself doing everything Bill Russell did!

My purpose in life during the 6th – 8th grade was to become an image of Bill Russell. I was willing to shovel snow, play basketball with mittens on, clean out an old barn, and shoot over beams. I was willing to do whatever it took to fulfill my purpose!

What is your purpose in life? I can almost bet it is not being Bill Russell, and it is no longer mine. But what is your purpose in life? What are the things you are willing to make sacrifices for, what do you invest the most time in, what are the things you spend the most money on, what is that one thing you work harder at than anything else?

Do you and God have the same purpose in mind for your life? I think God has made it pretty clear that His primary purpose for us is to reflect Him. The Trinity is talking and God says… “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26)

Obviously, we can’t look like God because God is not a physical being… “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) Although we can’t physically look like God, does not mean that we cannot reflect His qualities through our lives. We can actually reflect the love of God by sharing our faith with others. We can show off God’s forgiveness by forgiving those that deeply hurt us. We can use God’s Words so that when we try to help others, we can share with people God’s truth and not just our thoughts.

It is true that God is Loving, Righteous, Holy, Just, Merciful, Forgiving, and Fair, but it can only be shown to others as we live out these characteristics in our lives. To the extent that we live our lives in the image of God, will be the extent we will give visible credibility to God.

I have said many times that if you were able to shine a huge spotlight on my life, you would see the fingerprints of many people that have influenced and impacted my life over the years. Yet the biggest fingerprints on your life and mine, should be God’s.

The world is trying its best to take the image of God out of our lives and out of our society. If you and I are not willing to be image bearers for God, there is little hope for those that seek the answers to life. Considering what God did for us, why wouldn’t we want to show off God to others?

Bill Russell will probably die never knowing that this white kid in grammar school was willing to do anything for the opportunity to become like him. There are people in your life and mine that will die never realizing that God did everything for them, if Christians do not fulfill God’s purpose in our lives, to live out His image. Remember, as a follower of Christ, image bearing is our privileged purpose in life.

If I was willing to make any sacrifice to be like Bill Russell, imagine what we should be willing to do to imitate God!!