The words “overnight sensation” rarely apply, since they don’t reflect the years of practice and training; but Jeremy Lin’s meteoric rise to super-stardom in the National Basketball Association is truly an inspiration to players of all sports who wish they could get off the bench and into the game.
Not lost in this story is Lin’s identification as a Christian. His Wikipedia writeup states:
Lin is an evangelical Christian who was a leader in Harvard’s Asian American Christian Fellowship during his time there. Lin would one day like to be a pastor who can head up non-profit organizations, either home or abroad. He has also talked of working in inner-city communities to help with underprivileged children.
The Christian Post gets into more detail:
Jeremy Lin, while enrolled at Harvard University and playing for its basketball team, was co-leader of a Bible study group.
Lin was involved in a Bible study group run by the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Christian Fellowship, according to a 2010 interview with the online publication StudentSoul.org.
“I became a co-leader my junior year and I’m co-leading again this year. The group is a mix of believers and seekers,” said Lin to StudentSoul.org.
“Our fellowship has about 80 people and our purpose is to know God and make him known. We’re trying to do that in a way that is relevant for everyone on our campus.”
The blog Think Christian picks up more of the story:
Like any good point guard, Lin knows the art of the pass – distributing the praise to his teammates and to God.
“I’m just thankful to God for everything,” Lin said in a recent post-game interview. “Like the Bible says, ‘God works in all things for the good of those who love him.’”
Lin’s passing reference to Romans 8:28 was caught by his longtime pastor, Stephen Chen of Redeemer Bible Fellowship, a ministry within the Chinese Church in Christ in Mountain View, Calif. Chen describes the church as full of first- and second-generation immigrants, like Lin and his parents, who are “conservative in nature” and evangelical in faith.
“Very early in his life he decided to pay heed to the call of Christ to take up the cross daily and follow after Him,” Chen said.
Lin credits his parents with teaching him to play “godly basketball,” which measures success by sportsmanship, not stats. That means putting teammates first and showing respect to opponents and referees.
As his star rose, first at Harvard and then with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, Lin shared his faith testimony with youth groups and churches near his California home. In a 2011 appearance at River of Life Christian Church in Santa Clara, he quoted from the works of John Piper, a prominent neo-Calvinist pastor in Minneapolis, and spoke of trusting in “God’s sovereign plan.”
Lin already uses his social media platforms to spread the Word. His Twitter account’s description is, “to know Him is to want to know Him more.” His account’s avatar depicts Jesus telling a young man, “No, I’m not just talking about Twitter. I literally want you to follow me.”
As a professional sports player who is upfront about his faith, many have pointed to the similarity between Lin in basketball and Tim Tebow in football. Jim Denison at the blog Faith Village notes:
He is the son of godly parents who insisted that he attend worship each Sunday morning, even after late games on Saturday night… His Facebook page quotes Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
Does our culture need more Tim Tebows and Jeremy Lins? You and I may not make sports headlines today, but our character is on display within our own circles of influence. Jesus said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). Now that he is in heaven, we are “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), called to reflect his light to our dark and fallen culture.
Have you prayed today about your influence?
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