There was the “low to high” in tennis. There was the “pizza” in skiing. There was the “put pressure on your heels” in snowboarding. There was the “T-bone” in basketball. There was the “window” in football. I remember them all, and I still think of them till this day when I engage in those sports. I’m referring to particular fundamental skills in each of those sports, all of which are necessary to engage in the sport with any kind of proficiency—whether recreationally or competitively.
Learning proficiency in a sport starts with a foundation of the fundamentals. Only when you have mastered the basics can you learn the advanced moves, and only then can you start incorporating strategy. When conventional wisdom tells us that succeeding in sports is ninety-percent mental, this mental aspect incorporates both competitive grit and competitive smarts. However, no matter how advanced you become in your sport, training always starts with ensuring that the basics are solid.
Ever wonder why the initial part of practice sessions and pre-match warm-ups are always spent working on the fundamentals rather than the flashy? It’s because the moment you forget the basics is the moment things begin to go downhill. There are times when everything in your game will be so far off that you will have no other alternative than to go back to the basics. All of your flashy shots and cooked up strategies are out the window, and all you can do is play the simple game. And if you can’t even do that, defeat is only a step away.
In sports, where you’re facing direct opponents, the “crafty” players are those who don’t outright outplay you; they are the ones who expose the areas of your game where the fundamentals are weakest, and continue to work those areas until you break down mentally.
When it comes to Christian living, we must always be aware of how our enemy, Satan, works. And one of the ways he works is not through intimidation, but through deceptively luring us away from the fundamentals of the faith. Paul warns the Corinthians, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” Did this not happen to the Ephesian church? The Ephesian church was abounding in good deeds, intolerant of wickedness, and displayed perseverance and endurance through trials. But Christ rebuked what was an otherwise active, abounding, and theologically sound church because she had left her first love (Rev 2:4). Did He then not exhort the church to repent and “do the deeds you did at first” (Rev 2:5)?
In the same way that an athlete is in trouble when he starts to abandon the fundamental techniques of his sport, such is true for the Christian who begins to abandon the initial deeds of the faith—namely, the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ through the message of the gospel. Hence, we are to be those who never move away from the gospel (Col 1:23) and continually long for the pure milk of the Word (1 Pet 2:2), no matter how mature others may think we are. Let not the craftiness of Satan or the distractions of this world move us away from the fundamentals of the faith.