And then there were two. After one of the most intense Eastern Conference Finals in recent memory, the Miami Heat, on Saturday night, outlasted the veteran Boston Celtics to move into the NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. This is the eagerly awaited matchup many NBA fans were hoping for as two young, talented teams built around two young, talented Big Three sets go at each other for the right to hang a championship banner in their arenas. For me, not since the days of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird have two NBA teams been so good and so young. Admittedly, the Heat have a few more years on them than the Thunder, but make no mistake about it—this is not going to be old school basketball. This may, in fact, be the start of a new era in the Association as these two teams have the chance to be very good for a very long time.
It is not an easy thing when the torch is passed, as John F. Kennedy put it, to a new generation. Those of us who are a bit more, shall we say, experienced in life are apt to want to maintain the status quo. We like it. We’re comfortable with it. We don’t want it to change. For the younger generation, however, the handoff and the change it creates is not only inevitable—it’s necessary. Yet, unless there is mutual respect from both sides of the generation gap, things tend to get messy, people tend to get hurt, and progress tends to get stymied.
Paul understood this. He knew that the church would face the trials and testings of torch-passing as time moved forward, so he offered a wise challenge to a young man named Timothy, to whom he himself was passing the torch:
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:1-2).
Yes, Timothy would need grace to carry on, but he would also need to do for others what Paul had done for him—provide mentoring, help, and encouragement to those who would one day receive the torch themselves, those who would be Timothy’s generational handoff. The best way to ensure that the values of the heart of Christ endure is to take the time to invest them into our youth. When youth are prepared to accept the torch, there need be no fear that the legacy of the church will cease to endure.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain