Preface: “ ‘If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love’ ” (John 15:10, NKJV).

Like victory in team sports, salvation can be achieved only by one’s support and sacrifice of self for others. Only by team effort can the ultimate challenge of salvation be resolved. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2, NIV).

In basketball, the National Basketball Association (NBA) championship is the sport’s premier challenge. Each member of a team must have the same goal and mind to accomplish it. Coaches give their teams ideas and strategies on how to help their teams win.

In terms of salvation, Christ is our coach. By following His commandments and guidelines, we put ourselves in an excellent position to obtain salvation. Concern and support for others are important ingredients in accomplishing this goal. In basketball, if a team expects to win they must be aware of and concerned for their teammates. Former two-time NBA champion Isaiah Thomas said, “In order to be a successful team, you must have the frame of mind to do anything for your team—even die.” Now although in actuality no team member dies for another member, they occasionally fight for their teammates, lift them up when an opposing team knocks them down, and encourage them when they’re in a slump. As Christians, we too must reach out to others and find ways to support and encourage them.

The road to salvation is bumpy. Satan will try to lure us into traps and obstacles along the way, to prevent us from being saved.

Relating it to the NBA, the road to a championship starts from the regular season and then to the playoffs. In the playoff period, which spans three months, 16 teams compete for one goal. They must not only battle relentless opponents, but also nagging injuries lingering from the regular season. In the playoffs each teammate sets his ego aside, becomes unselfish, and sacrifices everything for the goal. Similarly, salvation is a goal all Christians want to accomplish. Unfortunately, not everyone follows the guidelines to obtain this goal. In order to obtain salvation, we must sacrifice time and have patience with each other. Like a basketball team, we must have one mind, and face together all obstacles that lie in our way. If we do this, the Lord promises He will never turn His back on us: “Neither death nor life . . . will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38, 39, NIV). Finally when these trials are over and we follow the Lord’s guidelines, we can claim the ultimate goal of salvation.

1. How can you as an individual help the church accomplish the goal of salvation?
2. As a Christian, how important is it to help strangers?
3. What guidelines did Jesus give us in order to obtain salvation?