3 Takeaways for Christians from Boston Celtics’ Al Horford

3 Takeaways for Christians from Boston Celtics’ Al Horford June 6, 2024

Celtics’ Al Horford. Erik Drost, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tonight is the first game in the 2024 NBA finals between the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks on ABC. Although I firmly believe that it should be my beloved Indiana Pacers who are there, I will still tune in to watch. I guess… If I must… With my Pacers jersey on…

But seriously, I’m a HUGE fan of basketball – at all levels.  I would watch it 24/7 if it were possible…but then I would have no wife, no family, no career, no life. Enough about me.

One of the things that makes sports so compelling, beyond the winning and losing, are the stories that lie behind the dunks, blocks, and overtimes. This year’s story lines include:

In 2022, Boston Celtics forward Al Horford was interviewed on Sports Spectrum‘s podcast about his faith. Al Horford is an integral part of the Boston Celtic’s success this season, especially with the injury to Kristaps Porzingis. What is even more impressive than Horford’s play during the playoffs is his journey in following and knowing Jesus. Here are 3 quotes from his interview that should serve as applicable takeaways for Christians everywhere:

“This is what I live by. My faith in Jesus Christ.”

Too many Christians “live by” things other than their faith in Jesus Christ. It’s evident in the fear that easily overwhelms us and the panic that seems to mark our lives whenever things don’t turn out how we think they should. We live by the money in our bank accounts, the compliments and criticisms of others, and our perceived satisfaction with life.

Horford has won and lost plenty of games in his NBA career. He challenges us to not live by wins and losses or stats on a page. Rather, live by our faith. When things are out of control, know that Jesus is fully in control. When life is spiraling, remember that Jesus is not surprised. When you’re given lemons, lean into Jesus, who loves you in spite of your circumstances, championships, or critiques.

“God has spoken to my heart and great things have come from that.”

Payton Pritchard of the Celtics
Payton Pritchard of the Celtics plays against the Cavaliers in 2021.Erik Drost, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When was the last time God spoke to your heart? When would you say is the last time you saw “great things” come from those times when God has spoken to your heart? In order to hear from God, our hearts have to be intentionally open. In our fast-paced, dog-eat-dog world, time with God often takes a back seat. It’s no wonder that the state of faith in the U.S. is in turmoil. Instead of allowing God to speak to our hearts so that great things can happen, we often attempt to create great things on our own and then ask God to bless those things.

Horford could have easily pointed to his hard work or his skill and experience as the reason for getting to the highest level of sports. Instead, he points to God. And, by the way, he also points to God as the reason for his successful marriage and family. If we want great things – peace, strength, comfort, joy, self-control – we must, first, allow God to speak to our hearts. Don’t reverse the process. Open up, be intentional, and watch as great things come from it!

“I need to let people know (about my faith)…”

One of the most challenging questions for Christians today is, do people know you’re a Christian by how you live? In other words, if you didn’t tell people you were a Christian, would they know by how you live, work, and love? Jesus calls us to be his witnesses here on earth and the best way we do that is to live our lives in a way that the world sees Him in us. A Jesus-transformed life is the goal.

Horford admits that, in the beginning of his faith journey, he didn’t share his faith with many people. As he’s grown as a Christian, he’s realized that Jesus invites him and instructs him to “let people know” about his faith. His platform is big…and so is yours. Even if it’s just an audience of one. Jesus would say that a hidden faith is no faith at all. Horford models for us this idea…and so did the first-century disciples. It’s time to let people know about your faith.

So, are you still grieving the Pacers loss too?  But seriously, what things, other than Jesus, are you guilty of “living by”? When was the last time God spoke to your heart? Have you let people know about your faith lately?  Questions to consider for sure!  Comment below and let me know your thoughts!

About Tim Parsons
Dr. Tim Parsons and his wife Consuela are the Lead Pastors of The Journey Church, a multi-ethnic, multigenerational, socioeconomically diverse church on the westside of Indianapolis. Tim is also a life coach for Next Level Christian Life Coaching. You can read more about the author here.

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