[Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. The real, flesh-and-blood Michael Jordan, who demonstrated great success at the game of basketball, is NOT “starting a church,” as I describe in this work of fiction. I use his name and personality in this story because he, in his life and person, provides an example of someone who represents a high standard.]
By Brandon Robinson
One day Michael Jordan, the greatest person to ever play basketball, out of the love and grace of his heart, decided to start a church.
It would be his church. He would be the honored, worshipped, central figure. He would bring into his presence starving masses and rookies who hungered to play basketball as Michael did. He would show them the way.
First, he had to get the word out: “Michael Jordan will show you what basketball is.” He appealed far and wide, on billboards, on television, and on social media. “Join my church and spend time with me.” He added a promise: “Join the Church of Michael Jordan, and you, too, will be able to play basketball like Mike.”
His efforts were successful. On the first day of services, his facility was packed, standing room only. Many rookies came from far and wide to know the wisdom and truth about this sport. The service was stirring. But how would such a transformation in character and ability happen?
Then Jordan announced, from the pulpit, “Abide in me, and you will grow into great basketball athletes. Spend time with me. My love, wisdom, and ability will be given to you, and you shall do the things that I have been doing. Perhaps, even greater things."
The audience of rookies, who had gathered from playgrounds, schools, and broken homes, with dead dreams, wounded hearts, and messed up perceptions of what basketball actually was, cheered energetically.
Over the following weeks and months, Michael Jordan and his followers played many games of basketball together. He got to know the rookies who believed in him and loved him. He took the game off the court, and started meeting and coaching his followers, one on one.
To one follower he said, “Your free throws are sloppy. You need to improve.”
To another follower he said, “What you’re doing on defense, isn’t actually defense. Do it this way.”
To another follower he said, “You are a lazy player and my pet dog could run circles around you. Get your heart in the game.”
To another he said, “You are playing recklessly, without respecting your teammates. You have to cooperate.”
And so it went, on and on. His followers loved him for the wise words, corrections, wisdom, and even his rebukes. With this tenacious love of Michael Jordan, they were growing closer and closer to playing real basketball, to becoming real basketball players.
One day, he was speaking with a follower. He said, “I see in you a heart for basketball. You could be one of the greatest the world has ever seen. You have the talent. You have the heart. But, you must change your entire understanding and approach to the game.”
The follower looked at Michael Jordan and said, “I am going to play basketball the way I want to play it. There is nothing wrong with me. Thank you for welcoming me into your fellowship. But stop being so critical and holding up such a high standard of basketball. There is nothing about me that I or you need to change.”
Michael Jordan looked at the follower with tear filled eyes. “My love changes you,” he said. “But maybe you’re not interested in changing. I release you to play the game on your own terms. But it will be fake, and, while gratifying at times, unfulfilling compared to the truth I offer you. If you don’t want to change, then you are not my disciple. All who love what I do keep my commands."