I was never very good at basketball, but I still remember an important concept from my 5th grade hoops coach. I could not shoot or dribble with any degree of proficiency, but I could steal. Coach would say, “I’m glad you can force the turnover, but it is not a valid possession until you have enough control to pass the ball to a teammate.”
St. Paul coached the young pastor Timothy on this same concept. Paul’s plan was to reach the entire known world, from Palestine to Rome, with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle’s life was characterized by a passion to spread the word of God. But Paul knew he could not do it alone. He needed “faithful men who” like Timothy would “be able to teach others also” (2nd Timothy 2.2). Paul expected his converts to “pass the ball” by sharing the gospel with those who would “in turn, pass it on to others”. In effect, Paul was saying, “If you can’t give it away, you never really had it.”
The Samaritan woman heard the gospel. She testified of its impact and “many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said”. But that was not enough. The impact of this woman’s experience was not fully realized until she was removed from the equation. At some point, those who heard had to say, “We have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior”. Until those I tell of Christ can say, “We have heard for ourselves”, I have not yet passed the ball. It’s not enough to tell them. They must hear for themselves.
The energy spent in ‘passing the ball’ to a faithful few will count as major ‘assists’ in God’s game plan to reach the world with the gospel of Christ.
“Basketball Net” image above is used by permission of photographer Suzy Mack. Check out her excellent photography at http://www.flickr.com/photos/suzymack/.