5/30/23 Devotional from Ed
May 30, 2023
Text: Matthew 28:18-20 (CEB version)
18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
Devotional: Long before an arena bore his name, long before the wins piled up, Dean Smith was a little-known assistant coach in Chapel Hill, NC, an understudy of the charismatic Frank McGuire.
When Coach Smith moved his family across the country to Chapel Hill in the late 1950s, he placed joining a church as the top priority for his young family. He connected with a local, young preacher, a preacher who reminded him of these important words above from Matthew’s gospel.
Without saying a word to anyone, Coach Smith would invite African American church members to accompany him into a white restaurant. This wasn’t just any white restaurant. The Pines was one of Chapel Hill’s finest restaurants, a restaurant Coach McGuire chose to host the all-white UNC basketball team before each home game.
Coach Smith never boasted about this necessary act of discipleship, simply saying years later, “You should never be proud of doing the right thing. You should just do the right thing.”
As his pastor, Reverend Robert Seymour, noted, “Dean wasn’t Dean then. He was an assistant coach. The management would certainly know him, but who knew how they’d react. They might call the police. They might call Coach McGuire and complain. There could have been serious trouble.”
If we take to heart these words from Matthew’s gospel, Coach Smith’s decision was clearly a “Jesus move.” And yes, he did exactly what Jesus wants, but it no doubt took courage. Coach Smith was a new staff member in an unfamiliar land from an unfamiliar part of the country. Sixty-five years later, the actions by an unknown coach, along with countless others who brought about massive change into our country, leaned into the words spoken from Jesus two thousand years ago.
This Sunday, we will award Bibles to our FLPC children who have completed second grade, and it is our hope that this charge from Jesus will always be a centerpiece of their lives. Furthermore, we hope and pray that our church family will always model these words, words that are echoed in each of our baptisms, to these second graders and all others we encounter.
Prayer: Holy God, fill us with your Spirit. Empower us, make us bold, strengthen us this day so we can lean into your words to go and make disciples. Amen.
Work Cited: Feinstein, John. The Legends Club: Smith, Krzyzewski, Valvano. New York: Random House, 2016), 8-9.