A few weeks ago, I walked into the office ready to begin another week only to have some of my interns and student leaders (most of whom are Asian) inform me that my Asian card had been temporarily revoked. Why?
Because I didn’t know who Jeremy Lin was.
So, seeing as how I had a really busy day full of meetings and other tasks that needed attending to, I did the only logical thing. I looked him up on google. And honestly? I was pretty impressed by what I read. Between him and Tim Tebow, it’s starting to look like the sports world is entering a new era – the age of the Christian athlete. And it made me wonder, what’s with the stir that this is causing, and what can we as Christians learn from this?
Tebowing and Linsanity
Now let’s get one thing straight, while I am a college football fan (hook’em horns!), I am nowhere near knowledgeable enough to comment on these two guys’ athletic abilities or discuss their stats or anything like that. I’ll leave that for all the sports fans out there. What I am interested in however, is the fact that these two have been headlining media not just because of their sports triumphs, but because of their faith.
America has had a very interesting reaction to these two athletes since they’ve first exploded onto the scene. Non-Christians (understandably) scoff at their faith in God, mocking their dedication to prayer and say it’s all an act to get reporters interested in them. But what I find intriguing is the fact that even some Christians are criticizing them, saying they are too outspoken about their faith and attracting too much attention.
Which brings up the question – Can one really be too outspoken about our personal relationship with Christ? Or is this really just an indication of where people are in their own lives?
To Speak Or Not To Speak
Whether we want to admit it or not, I think we live in an age where many Christians are generally wary of saying anything about their faith that will make them stick out in the crowd. Why? Because as we’ve so publicly seen from Tebow and Lin, sticking out can sometimes mean walking around with a target on your back, and really, who wants that?
The truth is, I’m not too far from that sort of mentality myself. I don’t always want to stick out or have people look at me strange for saying or doing something that is “weird” and “uncool.” But what I also can’t escape is the fact that following Jesus is to follow someone who was and is one of the most radical people of all time. And as we well know, radical people don’t simply blend in. Quite the opposite in fact.
Confessing Christ in All Circumstances
The Bible makes it pretty clear that if we want Jesus to acknowledge us before His Father in heaven, we must first be willing to acknowledge Him before men. (Matt 10:32) Notice it doesn’t say “acknowledge Him only when you feel like it of when it cool”. It says acknowledge Him. Period.
Whether it’s in the sports arena or on a college campus, the reality we face as Christians is that there WILL be times when we will face hostile environments that will make identifying ourselves as Christians seem like an unwise choice. But even then, it’s not a good enough excuse not to do so.
Following Jesus doesn’t just require a life of obedience and discipline. It first and foremost requires that our hearts be completely and totally surrendered to Him. He isn’t just supposed to be our Lord, He’s supposed to be our first love. And as a friend once put it, if you were truly in love with someone, then you’d want to talk about them all the time with everyone you know. Therefore it should be all the more when it comes to Christ.
So okay, maybe Tebow and Lin aren’t the most talented athletes out there. Maybe the way they go about talking about their faith rubs people the wrong way and you’d do it differently. But whatever the case is, as a fellow Christian I respect them and think we would do well to pay attention to their example.
No matter where we are in life, I think one of the biggest questions we need to ask ourselves is, what will we do when our faith is put to the test? What will we do when people start mocking and persecuting us for our faith? Will we crumble? Or will we stand firm?
I probably will never know what it’s like to have my faith so publicly challenged and mocked by a multitude of people. But what I can tell you, is that if something like that ever occurs, I hope that all my responses and actions will always point back to Jesus. Because whether it’s Tebowing or Linsanity, the point is, it’s getting people to talk about Christ, and as I’m sure these guys would both agree, it’s all worth it.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11 – 12
Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org