Links Daily Devotional

Of Journalists, Jordan, and Jesus

Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32, NIV)

It’s making the rounds again. That story about Jordan Spieth. You know the one. It first arrived in your email inbox two years ago. Now it’s back. And nothing’s changed.

In the article, Jordan is portrayed as the nice guy he is. He’s great with the fans, great with the press, and—most importantly—he’s great with his sister Ellie, who was born with a neurological disorder that shapes her personality and intellect in challenging ways. Jordan loves her. And so do many of us golf fans.

None of that is in question.

What is in question is whether Jordan loves Jesus. Let’s be very careful here. I can’t from where I am sitting tell you that Jordan doesn’t love Jesus. But here’s how the article starts:

Jordan Spieth believes in God. And if you meet him in person, you’ll quickly realize that despite his great success—he remains very humble.

But Spieth doesn’t claim to be a perfect Christian. In a recent interview, the second-youngest man to ever win the Masters shared that he desperately needs Christ, and thanks his family for keeping him grounded.

It is never helpful—not to the person and not to those listening or reading—to tell the public that someone believes before they have done so themselves.I like the sound of all of that. But here’s the problem. The article never quotes Spieth himself. It never cites the interview—and no Google search turns up any corroborating story or interview. What that means is this brand of “journalism” is based on hearsay, and hearsay is suspect in both news reports and courts of law. To make matters worse, I’ve read other celebrity-athlete articles by from the same Internet sources. Guess what? More and more and more of the same. One article went so far as to suggest that Phil Mickelson is a man of faith because there is a cathedral in his neighborhood. Again, I won’t speculate on another man’s faith from afar, but I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “Going to church doesn’t make someone a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.”

Perhaps what I am writing today is more commentary than devotion. God, however, has brought me through a lifetime where I have been a competitive golfer, a journalist, a pastor, and a ministry leader. Sometimes these functions overlap, and such is the case today.

Friends, I know one thing to be true from my years of working with professional golfers and average believers both: it is never helpful—not to the person and not to those listening or reading—to tell the public that someone believes before they have done so themselves.

Does Jordan Spieth believe in God? Does he follow Jesus with his heart, soul, mind, and strength? Does he have what some Christians call “a saving faith”? Is he prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in him? I really don’t know—because I haven’t heard him say it for himself. And because there’s no such thing as faith by association, Bubba Watson’s saying that Spieth goes to the Tour Bible study on occasion doesn’t tell us anything helpful either.

Where does that leave me? Here: Praying that Jordan Spieth (and many others, either famous and known only to me and a few friends) would be drawn to Christ, no matter where they are in their faith right now.

Jeff Hopper
August 14, 2017
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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.