The basics

Getting back to the basics. Just like Vince Lombardi's approach to football.

Do you know the story? In July, 1961, the Green Bay Packers returned to training camp - just a few months after a heartbreaking loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Championship game. Losing that game was particularly hard because they held the lead in the fourth quarter until the last six minutes.

When they got back to camp for the 1961-1962 season, the players were plenty eager to dive right in, reaching for the next level of play with a renewed sense of determination.

Coach Lombardi, however, had a different idea.

He decided to go back to the basics.

He started off their first practice with a visual. He held up an oblong, brown, stitched, and painfully familiar object and said, "Gentlemen, this is a football."

He knew what his players wanted to do. They wanted so badly to get back the loss - erase the mistakes they made and shoot higher in their play. They wanted to rest on what they thought they already knew - the basics of the game - and, with that in their back pockets, take the field by storm.

But, again, the coach saw something else.

Lombardi knew the players could play the game. He knew they understood the rules, the fundamentals of play and positions, the standard playbook and guidelines. But he also knew something else.

Lombardi knew that, somewhere along the way, the players - and the coaches - had lost sight of those football basics. They were so busy trying to do the next thing, they overlooked the importance of the simple fact: this is a football.

As Christians, we're not so different than the 1961 Green Bay Packers.

Christians sidestep the important steps. Even long-time, mature Christians who have been Followers ever since they can remember may gradually wander away from the basics. Sometimes those daily practices seem, well, just so daily.

Now we don't forget the truth. We don't forget or take for granted Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and miraculous return from the dead. We are continually in awe that God's steadfast love never ceases. And we know that we need Him every hour.

No, we don't forget the truth. But we do occasionally slide casually over and past the basics.

Many smart people have created outlines or simple steps to remember how to practice being a Follower of Jesus. You may have your own. But, if you don't, here's a good one:

  1. Be with Jesus.
  2. Be like Jesus.
  3. Do what Jesus does.

Really, it's that simple. Easy? Not always. But we know that when we abide with Him, we'll become more like Him and grow in His love and strength to do what He would do here on earth.

Jesus doesn't expect us to be perfect. He doesn't expect that we remember every step or that we never misstep. He just wants us to get back to the basics.