Faith In American Culture
Our American culture typically sees the operation of faith- belief in the Almighty God- within the walls of a church, in outreach efforts in underserved communities or conducting missions in developing countries. However, faith is much more than these descriptions. Faith is a lifestyle. It is an unwavering trust in who God is and His infallible Word. Faith is an anchor from the turbulence of life. Faith is an evidence. It is also an assurance in a supernatural Being. Faith is a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Through Him, faith followers have this access to the heart of God.
Lived Out Loud Faith
One of the most inspiring things is when faith is lived out loud. This is the case for many of the NBA players we love watching each year as they and their teams play to advance to the finals of the NBA championship games. Players like Dwight Howard, Nate Robinson, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Emmanuel Mudiay, Stephen Curry and Jeremy Lin to name a few, catch the attention of Christians; because their faith is central to who they are and follows them to the court in what they do. In other words, they bring their faith to the game. Many people might not know how faith in God is crucial to the lives of many NBA players. This post is meant to introduce you to some of them.
About Jeremy Lin
Let’s take a look at Jeremy Lin who has quickly become one of the shining stars in the NBA at 34 years old. Jeremy was born in California and raised in a Christian home in the Bay area. His parents emigrated from Taiwan to the US. His dad taught him and his two brothers how to play basketball at their local YMCA. His mom was instrumental in starting a National Junior Basketball program in their community to provide avenues for Jeremy to play in. Jeremy attended Harvard where he played in the Ivy League. During his time at Harvard, Jeremy was one of the leaders of the Asian American Christian Fellowship. He graduated with a bachelors in economics and a 3.1 grade point average. While many of his top basketball friends were quickly drafted in the 2010 NBA draft after college graduation, no team drafted Jeremy. In fact, one newspaper article described Jeremy as a “smart passer with a flawed jump shot and a thin frame, who might not have the strength and athleticism to defend, create his own shot or finish at the rim in the N.B.A.” However, in July of 2010, Jeremy signed a two year contract with the Golden State Warriors. The rest is history, as Jeremy diligently worked hard to position himself as one of the leading NBA players of his generation. Lin is the first American of Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA.
Lin has made major contributions to the well loved American sports. Since his initial draft to the Golden State Warriors, Jeremy has also played for the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, LA Lakers, Charlotte Hornets, Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks and most recently Kaohsiung 17LIVE Steelers in Taiwan. While playing for the New York Knicks in the 2011-2012 season, Lin led a winning turnaround that earned him a buzz known as “Linsanity.” Jeremy is the first Asian American to win an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2019. Lin is married and hopes to become a pastor who leads non-profit organizations either here in America or abroad. One major standout on Lin’s faith is his bold stance of living for the approval of God. He indicated that he plays the game without pressure for success. He states, “I’ve surrendered that to God. I’m not in a battle with what everybody else thinks anymore.” This is one of the highlights of freedom; when a person can live his or her life solely to please God. Let’s cover Jeremy in prayers as he recovers from head injury in his recent game in Taiwan.
About Kevin Durant
Our second Christian NBA player is Kevin Durant. He was born in Washington, D.C. His father left their family when he was an infant and his parents would later divorce. Kevin was raised by his grandmother in the eastern part of Washington, D.C. He has three siblings ( a sister and two brothers). Durant attended the University of Texas at Austin, where as a freshman he was a standout, earning consensus national College Player of the Year honors. He decided to play professionally and was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics with the second overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft. Kevin hit the ground running as a dynamic player with the Seattle SuperSonics and earned the NBA Rookie of the year. The Seattle SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant has also played for the U.S. national basketball team, the Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets and currently with the Phoenix Suns.
Durant has made major contributions to one of America’s favorite sports. Some of his contributions include; a two times NBA champion (2017, 2018), a two times NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, a thirteen times NBA All Star, a six times All NBA First Team, a two times NBA All Star Game MVP, an NBA Rookie Challenge MVP, a three times Olympic gold medalist, a three times USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year,and FIBA World Cup gold medalist. In addition to his basketball career, Kevin owns a variety of business ventures. One thing that people may not know about Kevin, is his proclamation about his faith. Durant, asserts that his relationship with Jesus Christ is a much more fulfilling component of his life. He went to church a lot while he was young and remembers many conversations with his mom. Kevin acknowledges the value of prayer and reading the Bible as a motivator for him to play his best when on the court. He gathers for prayer before games and believes the Bible tells him how he can live for the Lord. Kevin wears a baller band on his left wrist with the inscription ibelieve. For Durant, this baller band is a symbol of his faith that testifies of his belief in God’s love for him, Jesus’ payment on the cross for his sins, and God’s grace towards him. For Durant, these are reasons for him to worship God and he recognizes that God gave him the gift of basketball. He states, “I have to be thankful to the Lord for the gifts He’s given me. My gift back to Him is to always be humble and always work as hard as I can.” This is one of the highlights of a purpose driven life; when a person knows that the gifts he or she excel in is made possible by the Master Creator who destined it so.
Ambassadors of Christ
Living out one’s faith out loud is not for the faint-hearted. To be the same person, in and out of the church walls, is exactly what 2 Corinthians 5:20 admonishes Christians to be. We are ambassadors of Christ and through the lives of Christians in and out of the church, God draws people to Himself. The hard work of parenting should include teaching, equipping and empowering children to live out their faith boldly in our culture.