I don't know how many of you knew this, but last week marked the beginning of the March Madness NCAA Basketball tournament. Or as I like to call it: the most wonderful week of the year.
I love watching basketball. I love watching the college crowds get so excited for their team. I love the story lines and the sappy puff pieces they share about players during the pre-game shows. I love the upsets and the buzzer beaters and everything in between.
But there’s one more piece that really gets me excited about the NCAA tournament and it has nothing to do with the tournament itself. What I might love most this time of year is all the discussion about the upcoming NBA draft.
You see, the best players in the NCAA will go on to be drafted by an NBA team in July, and for many College players the tournament offers them a chance to finally showcase their talents on a national stage.
And so throughout the NCAA Tournament, I listen closely for the discussions about a player’s NBA potential. I hang on every word about a prospect’s “upside” or their “wingspan” or their “motor”.
Inevitably, somewhere in these discussions you’ll also hear talk about a player’s fundamentals. By this I mean how well the player has refined the core aspects of their game. How clean is their jump shot? How crisp is their passing? Do they dribble well? Do they know how to play defense? Do they have proper footwork in the post?
Discussions of fundamentals when talking about college basketball players is a joy for me. However, I bet if I used the word “fundamentals” in church or “fundamentalism” it would call to mind something completely different for most of you. When it comes to matters of faith, Fundamentalism is often associated with a particular branch of Christianity that emphasizes condemnation and judgement above all else.
But here’s the thing, I think we could all benefit from attending to the fundamentals of our faith a little bit more. Let me use a passage from Acts to explain:
“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:44-47
I think, in a way, this passage describes for us true Christian fundamentalism. The fundamentals of our practice of faith are described plainly for us in this short passage. The earliest Christians committed themselves to the apostle's teachings, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.
For the early Christian Church and the original disciples, the fundamentals are what kept their communities strong in the face of persecution. The fundamentals helped to constantly remind them and re-center them in the promises of God.
So I invite you this week, to focus on the fundamentals. Study the apostles’ teachings that are recorded in the scriptures. Take time to fellowship and be in community with other Christians. Take part in a worship service where Holy Communion is celebrated. Find a moment each day to pause and pray.
And then, take note of the ways that these fundamental practices keep you grounded and aware of the promises of God.