Shortly before Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash on a California hillside in January of 2020, a tragedy that also claimed the life of his daughter and seven others, the Basketball Hall of Famer recalled a conversation with fellow basketball player Michael Jordan.

At the time, Bryant’s daughter was taking an interest in basketball, and the retired Los Angeles Laker was asking Jordan about where the young girl should be age and talent wise. He was skeptical of the complexity of the program she was in.

“Kids nowadays try to do too much,” he recalled. “You know, from the skill standpoint. They try to do all this fancy stuff instead of the basic stuff. So, I teach my kids the most basic stuff and we just do it again and again.”

Looking for some affirmation, Bryant asked Jordan where he was at by twelve, his daughter’s age.

“Dude,” replied Jordan. “I was playing baseball.”

The insinuation, of course, was that intense specialization at an early age isn’t necessary.

Michael Jordan often talks about being cut from his high school basketball team. It makes for a good story, even though it’s not entirely true. As a sophomore, Jordan was assigned to the junior varsity team. Not quite a castoff, but still a devastating blow for a kid who always strived to be the best and playing at the highest available level.

When it came to basketball, both Jordan and Bryant regularly lauded the value of keeping it simple and doing the basics, repeatedly. Their legendary status would seem to affirm the wisdom and effectiveness of that disciplined and basic approach.

Though far removed from the hardwood, the late Eugene Peterson stressed a similar sentiment in his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. He also acknowledged it’s neither glamorous nor attractive.

“There is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness,” wrote Peterson.

Instead, even as believers we look for the quick hit, the easy fix, the golden ticket that will solve our challenges and maybe even secure our happiness. It’s a fool’s errand, and an elusive pursuit. In a fallen and sinful world, there will always be that longing, frustration – and temptation to skip the practice and go right for the game. It’s a mistake.

In an increasingly sophisticated world, and especially in a culture that alienates and ostracizes Bible-believing Christians for holding to unpopular viewpoints, it’s tempting to think there is a way to bypass that long obedience. It’s common to find those trying to improve upon the basics of the Christian faith. Running down such a path is fruitless and destructive.

As more and more lies are introduced as facts – it’s good to reaffirm and recommit ourselves to the fundamentals of life with Christ. It may not win you points with the elites – but it’s pointless to even try to win popular favor with the world.

As Christian citizens, husbands, wives, parents, and children, we should never grow weary of affirming the basics.

First and foremost, we must regularly affirm the exclusivity of the Christian faith.

Despite progressives who suggest otherwise, Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. There are not multiple paths to everlasting life. “I am the way and the truth and the life,” said Jesus. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Salvation comes only by grace. Emphasized the apostle Paul, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Second, affirm that Jesus rose from the dead. Everything hinges on this truth.

An old Presbyterian pastor friend of mine said he knew many ministers who didn’t believe in the physical, bodily resurrection of the Lord. With that heretical belief, is it any wonder that theology of so many denominations, churches and individuals have fallen apart?

Third, affirm the foundational flashpoints in today’s culture regarding the clear biblical positions regarding life, marriage, family, human sexuality, the distinctness of two genders, and religious freedom:

God created male and female, and we’re one or the other. That’s it. Men cannot be women, and women cannot be men.

Abortion is wrong, wicked and evil. Life is always the better choice.

Marriage is a God-ordained institution between one man and one woman. It’s a lifelong commitment

Children are a blessing, not a burden. Once married, we should welcome as many children as the Lord gifts us.

Parents, not bureaucrats, are solely responsible for their children. They’re boss, and no government should ever usurp their authority.

Religious freedom is a critical and crucial distinctive of America. Our Constitution assures us of it – and our founding documents were created by faith-filled people whose beliefs inspired these principles.

Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan were consistent and persistent, never abandoning the perfecting of the basic habits that set them up for success. Doing the hard work gave them the confidence they could to deliver regardless of the conditions.

As Christians, we must live courageously and unapologetically. Daily spiritual disciplines like Bible reading, study, quiet time, and meeting and praying with fellow believers will strengthen and embolden us.

The “basics” are foundational and formational – and critical. Returning to the core beliefs and fundamental truths of the Christian faith will strengthen us and best prepare us to face the fury of a culture determined to derail and deny the divinity of Jesus Christ.


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