Just two weeks ago, only die-hard professional basketball fans knew about Jeremy Lin. The second year point guard out of Harvard who has been cut by two teams and bounced around the NBA Developmental league, has now taken the basketball world by storm with a week of phenomenal performances as the new starting point guard for the New York Knicks. Lin’s dazzling passing skills and ability to get to the rim for baskets has given the Knicks a 4-game winning streak capped off by a phenomenal 38-point performance in which Lin outdueled Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. New York City has gone “Lin-sane” all week as the nation has become obsessed with all things Lin, as he turned around the Knick’s season single-handedly. But in the midst of his new-found fame (and soon to come fortunes) Lin, an outspoken Christian, has maintained that the credit for everything should go to Jesus Christ.
Testimony On the Court
Lin ‘s outspoken thanks to Jesus is a result of being raised in a Christian home and his own personal growth and maturation in Jesus Christ. With respect to being saved, Lin stated:
My faith and my basketball began separately, then slowly converged, and now they influence each other. But when I first started playing basketball, I was five years old, and my dad put a ball in my hands. Ever since I was a little kid, I just loved to play this game. I was always in the gym. I loved playing. That’s what I did for fun, all the time.
My parents also took me to church ever since I was a little kid. I grew up in the church, but I didn’t really become a Christian until I was a freshman in high school. That’s when the gospel really started to make sense to me and I was ready to give my life to God.
Then, Christianity didn’t become a significant part of my approach to basketball until the end of my high school career and into college. That’s when I began to learn what it means to play for the glory of God. My parents had often talked about it and told me that I should play for God’s glory, but I never understood quite what that meant. That was something that really boggled my mind. My parents hadn’t gone through what I was going through, being an Asian-American basketball player in America. I thought, “I want to do well for myself and for my team. How can I possibly give that up and play selflessly for God?”
Slowly, God revealed more to me. I started learning how to trust in Him, not to focus so much on whether I win or lose but to have faith that God has a perfect plan. For me to put more of an emphasis on my attitude and the way that I play, rather than my stats or whether we win a championship. I learned more about a godly work ethic and a godly attitude, in terms of being humble, putting others above yourself, being respectful to refs and opponents. There are really so many ways you can apply your faith to basketball. (Source)
A Rough Start
Lin’s NBA career has been rocky to say the least. He was an undrafted rookie on the Golden State Warriors, who cut him before he even made it through one full pracice. When asked about what maintained him through such a tough time, Lin again gives credit to The Lord and the Bible:
“I definitely didn’t see it coming and got pulled out midway through the first practice. My agent and I had zero idea that was going to happen,” Lin said. “It was really tough for me at the time but I just tried to hold on to a lot of the stuff in the Bible that God gives to trust, have joy in the sufferings, and trust in his perfect plan. That’s what I tried my best to do and I’m thankful the way things turned out.”
He then bounced around the NBA’s Developmental League, was signed and cut by the Houston Rockets before getting a chance with the Knicks. Lin, who has been sleeping on his brother’s couch in Manhattan, tweeted on a night he could not stay there: “God is good during our ups and downs! Glad we got the win,” Lin tweeted. “Thanks to Landry Fields for letting me crash on his couch last night!”
Lin also posts Bible verses on his Twitter account, one is Romans 5:3-5, which reads: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” The trials and tribulations Lin suffered as the first Chinese American player in the NBA, fighting for a chance helped build his faith in God even more.
Already he is being called a “Taiwanese Tim Tebow” (we profiled Tebow’s bold stance for Christianity in our article here) and the comparisons make sense. Lin has credited Tebow for his outspoken faith:
“Actually a lot of inspiration just because (Tebow’s) such a polarizing figure but I think the things he says in interviews, his approach to the game is just unbelievable and I respect him so much,” Lin said on Thursday. “I want to be able to do some of the things that he does in terms of the amount of charity work and the nonprofit work, and the way he impacts people off the field. I think that is what is most inspiring to me about him.” (source)
Now that he has taken New York and the US by storm, there is already speculation about Lin’s global impact. As the son of Tawainese parents, media reports already foresee Lin being a marketing sensation in China. Through it all, Lin stays humble:
“Not just in basketball, but I think in life, when you’re called to be a Christian, you’re automatically called to be different from everyone else. In today’s world of basketball, it makes you really different, because the things that society values aren’t necessarily in line with what God values.
Much of it comes down to humility. We as Christians are called to be humble. And if we really understand the gospel, we will be humble. We should be humble, and understand that everything that is good comes from God.
We are also called to turn the other cheek and love our enemies. There are times on the basketball court when people will say things to you, and you just have to bite your tongue and love them. It’s almost as though you have to love then even more, and that love means more if they’re wronged you.” (source)
Praise The Lord for the young generation of Christian athletes who are willing to stand for their faith in Jesus Christ and proclaim His Name at a time when the world is trying to silence Christians, mock Jesus and remove God from anywhere in society. The Christian life is not just about saying you are a Christian, but about living it and letting people know the whole point of the faith is to let people know that Jesus Christ is the way to Heaven and forgiveness of sins. Pray for Lin to continue to grow in His faith and trust of God, stay humble and be an example on and off the court for Christians and non-believers worldwide. And that when people look at these young athletes they will see the power of Jesus Christ moving in them and be moved to look for eternal life.
For more on his testimony, here is Lin at a speaking engagement
Here is a prayer session that Lin had with friends and church members at the start of his amazing week.