Random “Linsanity”: What we can learn from Jeremy Lin’s recent media frenzy

photo © 2012 Some rights reserved by DvYang CC-NC_SA on Flickr

Ok. Yeah, I’ve caught the fever. Well, almost. As a natural contrarian, I’m typically not quick to jump on anybody’s bandwagon. But I’ve had a couple thoughts lately about Jeremy Lin and his sudden rise to the media spotlight. Just consider this my small contribution to the tidal wave of media that has fixated on this young athlete. While the future of his basketball career is still up in the air (7 wins a hall-of-famer does not make), I think his sudden rise in media attention can teach all of us something.

God is Sovereign

The past couple of years our family has had the privilege of hosting a couple of exchange students from mainland China. This has been an enriching experience for our family and has given me a sort of “insiders” view to the far east that I probably would not have had otherwise. While there have been many advances to the gospel in this region, the vast majority of the people have never heard the gospel message nor are they familiar with basic Christian doctrine. Jeremy Lin is helping to change much of that.

This past week he is reported to have been the number one search on Baidu, the Chinese (and highly censored) equivalent of Google. His profile lists his religion as “Christian” with a link to a common article on “Christianity”(a Chinese Wikipedia-type source), which based on my poor Google translation, seems to be a fair representation of the historical claims of Christianity (and its various strains–mainly, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox).

There are enough articles out there describing Lin’s background, so I won’t retell that here, but the point is this: If God wants to take an American born man of Taiwanese immigrants and make him 6’3″ tall (much taller than his parents), allow him to be Harvard educated, have him go predominantly unnoticed by NBA scouts, and then send him to the peak of media attention in the world’s largest media market in a couple short weeks, then God can do just that. And if all that comes of Lin’s career, whether it be long lived or short, is being a high-profile light of the gospel for almost 1.5 billion people that otherwise may not even consider the claims of Christ, then I believe he is hall-of-fame caliber in a different book, regardless of his long-term basketball statistics. But that’s the cool thing about this hall of fame–there is only one Member (hint: it’s not Lin), and from what I can tell at this point, Jeremy seems just fine with that.

The Gospel is for everyone

Part of what makes this story so unique is the stereotype killing that is happening as a result of the media hype. He is the first Asian-American to play in the NBA. He is Harvard educated (I guess not ALL Christians are uneducated and ignorant [smile]). AND he has “unified” China/Taiwanese relations in that they both claim him as their own. (I say this somewhat tongue in cheek and you only have to do a little historical research to know the tensions that have existed between these two countries).

If you would have asked any sports analyst half worth his salt 10 years ago if he/she thought the most talked about player in the NBA would be an Asian-American, most probably would have laughed at you in the face. So, before you laugh too hard at your prospects of considering the claims of Christ as true for yourself–don’t laugh so fast, the gospel is for you as well. [For a short explanation of what I mean by “the gospel” click here].

Every Christian has a responsibility to live “the gospel”

In a recent interview, Lin was asked about how his outlook has changed with all of this new-found fame and he said “I’m thinking…how can I bring God more glory?”. This is much different than how most of us would respond. Many at this point would be thinking “how can I cash in on my new found fame?”, or “Yeah, it’s about time everyone sees how great I really am”. But seeking God and His glory first, gives Lin a unique perspective that, though counterintuitive, actually will make him more successful–more successful in the things that really matter, anyway. Will Lin score some big endorsement deals? Probably. If people dig deep enough, will they find “dirt” on this young athlete? Probably. I don’t mean this as derogatory to Lin’s testimony, however, the beauty of the gospel is that we’re all fallen and broken in some way, and that’s why we need redemption. However, the power of the gospel makes our shortcomings and failures as blood-stained patchwork on a quilt that is infinitely valuable and already purchased by God.

Regardless of who you are or what pinnacle of “success” you may or may not have achieved at this point, we all have a responsibility to bring God glory from our lives. In his book Soulprint, Mark Batterson states “…You were created to worship God in a way that no one else can. How? By living a life no one else can—your life. You have a unique destiny to fulfill, and no one can take your place.” Ephesians 2:10 states that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus”. We are all unique and infinitely valuable to God and to the “worlds” we live in. While my fame may never reach “Linsanity” status, I have a responsibility to live the gospel in my “world”, and in doing so, I can have eternal significance by loving those in my world, because I am loved by a King with an eternal Kingdom.

You are exceptional too

I wish the best for Lin and his basketball career. I hope he breaks all sorts of records and goes down in history as one of the best ever. But even more than that, I’m thankful that, regardless of his basketball success, he is exceptional in that he is “finding greater ways to give God glory”. I’m glad for the reminder that I am exceptional as well, because when God made me he broke the mold. He broke the mold when he made you, too. If we can find our identity in that fact and live in constant pursuit of knowing God and allowing the gospel to redeem our lives daily, we too can experience a kind of success that is unexplainable.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: