Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"Run It 'til They Stop It!"

Back in the 1970s my Dad and I used to coach little league football together in Greensboro, NC. The team was the Guilford College Steelers, a "country" team that was once a doormat for the powerhouse city teams in the 8-9 and 10-11 year old age groups. Under Dad's leadership they became perennial contenders, playing in 5 city championship games and winning back-to-back titles in 1976 and '77. He made the game simple and fun. His teams were seldom the most talented but always the best prepared. Dad, unlike many of the Vince Lombardi wannabes coaching kids, understood that winning at that level required a different way of thinking than high school or college. This showed up in a variety of ways, but none was more obvious that in his offensive play calling. The Steelers had a diverse offense and lots of plays. Basic running plays, passing plays, trick plays- you name it and it was in our arsenal. Dad would begin every game by showing off our basic running plays. If a play gained good yardage he'd come back to it a few plays later. And if it worked well a second time we all knew what would come next. He would break into a huge grin, grab one of the kids on the sidelines and send the following message into the huddle- "Run it 'til they stop it!" And that's exactly what the team would do. I remember the Steelers scoring touchdowns, driving down the field 5-7 yards at a time running the same play 10 times in a row. There was no need to make it complicated. There was no reason to overthink. "Run it 'til they stop it." We won a lot of games that way.

In 1992 former Arkansas governor Bill Clinton surprised the nation by winning the Democratic Party nomination to run for President of the United States. He would oppose George (Daddy) Bush, the popular incumbent. The only negative for Bush was a staggering economy that was causing his approval ratings to fall. Clinton seemingly suffered through one public relations nightmare after another, and the chances of him winning seemed slim. But then his young, brilliant campaign staff made a bold move. Whatever subject the press and the public wanted to talk about, they would turn the conversation back to the economy. Their mantra became "It's the economy, stupid!" They knew it was the one issue they could win on, the one issue where Clinton held the upper hand. As the Bush campaign began to flail a bit, the Clintons simply talked about the economy more. Their efforts snowballed and there was nothing the Republicans could do to stop it. Clinton won the presidency and the economy was the major reason. I could almost hear George Stephanopoulos whispering in Clinton's ear before every speech- "Run it 'til they stop it." And they never did.

When you are the parent of an infant or a toddler, finding routines that get them to eat, sleep, use the potty and otherwise make your life simpler are discoveries of great joy. And when you find something that works, you stick to it. If playing airplane and flying the food into the the baby's mouth gets her to eat, you fly the airplane. If reading the same book every night for 12 months gets them to sleep, you read the book. You keep attacking the problems with a solution that works until they outgrow it and you move on to something else. You "run it 'til they stop it"- and then you move on.

For over 2000 years church leaders, theologians, seminary professors and talking heads have worked hard to make the teachings of Jesus seem complicated. Their theory is this- the more complicated being a Christ-follower is, the more we need them to help us figure it all out. So we fight over this and that and what we think Jesus meant or what he might have said if he had addressed a particular issue at all. We debate things as inane as "Why did Jesus say the word 'the' in Greek in that verse instead of speaking Aramaic?" when in fact we are reading in english a text that has probably been translated a dozen times. We argue over the minutia because what we KNOW scripture says is out of step with our world. Most of the things our churches hold dear come from founding fathers and church leaders, not from Jesus. And yet every denomination claims to know the way Jesus would do things were he among us today. We make it so complicated, when in fact it couldn't be more simple. Jesus made it very clear, and he did it over and over again. The church is to get out there in this messed up world and LOVE people in his name. People who are different. People who are hurting. People who are lost and confused. People who don't like us. People who shoot at us. People who fear us. Our calling is to go after these people with LOVE and not stop until they know the love of God whose name is Jesus. And all we are to ask of them is that they share the love as well. 

It's pretty simple church. Our job is to love one another. Now and always. "Run it 'till they stop it." The play is love. And it's unstoppable!

Because of Jesus,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!