The name Butler is not typically thought of by most when it comes to a dominating or legendary college basketball team. But the school, one that most fans cannot even pinpoint on a map. made it all the way through March Madness and to the deciding game. It was only there that they fell short – very short!
The opponent was the University of Connecticut (UConn), a team that is synonymous with winning and championship basketball. The were favored to win the title, but Butler’s play up to that point hand many wondering and even in doubt about the final outcome.
It started out well for Butler as UConn trailed 22-19 after a first half. But at halftime, Uconn’s coach made a forceful locker room speech. The result was that they returned to the court and won the title with a defensive showing for the ages. They held Butler’s shooting from the floor to a pathetic 12-for-64. The 18.8 percent performance turned out to be historic as the second worst ever in a title game. When the dust settled, and the shoes stopped squeaking on the floor, the final score was 53-41 and could have been even worse.
"The halftime speech was rather interesting," said Calhoun after the game. Among other things, he said to his team, "We are going to out-will them and outwork them." And that is exactly what they did. The coach is now the oldest to ever win a national championship and one of a select few to own three victories in the famed tournament. He also uttered about his team, "They truly were brothers, they truly were trusting in each other, and that was very, very special. This group has taken me on a very special journey, better than I could possibly imagine."
Calhoun’s feeling about the unity, trust, and teamwork of his club is something that God covets for those on His elect roster of faith. In 1 Corinthians chapter twelve, the Apostle Paul conveys how the local church is really that of a spiritual team made up by a variety of members each having special skills and playing specific positions given them at the moment of salvation.
In verse 12 Paul writes, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.”
Verse 20 continues by stating, “But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”
It is when the various spiritual gifts given to every Christian are developed, used properly, and exercised regularly in the local church team that a ministry flourishes and glorifies the One who put it all in place.
Again, Coach Calhoun declared of his guys, "They truly were brothers, they truly were trusting in each other, and that was very, very special. This group has taken me on a very special journey, better than I could possibly imagine." That was likely true for the now legendary college coach this year. But there is absolutely nothing comparable to the unique journey of committed Christian brothers and sisters working together in spiritual harmony and using their spiritual gifts to achieve God’s plans and purpose. Paul referred to this great truth and God's will both in Ephesians and in Philippians.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
"For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:15)
Five or ten years from now, few will even recall the two teams that played in the 2011 national basketball college championship. Nearly none, other than perhaps the players themselves, will be able to give the accurate score of the somewhat disappointing game. The same basic holds true with most any major sports title after enough time has passed. But those whose earthly journey reflects heavenly values, and whose daily lives parallel Christ's mind and attributes, will someday fully comprehend and forever experience the blessed reality recorded by the Apostle John.
"And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:17)