(Photo: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz)
As New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin continues making sports headlines across the country and around the world, his Christian faith is also drawing praise from one of America's biggest megachurch pastors.
Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, which draws 50,000 worshipers a week, remarked in an interview with Times Union that he is a big fan of both Lin and Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow – even though he admits the athletes express their faith in notably different ways.
"He's humble. He's passionate. He's an underdog," Osteen said of Lin, the first-ever Chinese-American to make such a stir in the NBA. "I like what he stands for."
"Every person expresses their faith differently," he continued, comparing the two athletes. "Jeremy is a little more understated. Sometimes the message is the life you live and the way you carry yourself."
Lin has spoken about his faith in interviews and praised God for giving him the chance to prove himself, although he has not made his religion a focal point of off-field interviews, and so far has not created a trademark celebration like "Tebowing" – which involves the Broncos quarterback getting down on one knee and bowing his head in prayer, which has been copied and parodied by numerous athletes, celebrities and entertainers.
The Knicks player expresses his faith on-field simply by wearing a wristband from Active Faith, a Christian sports apparel brand.
Osteen is fine with both approaches, however, and says the important thing is to celebrate God in our own way.
The Lakewood megachurch pastor recently addressed accusations about preaching "watered-down" Christianity that often lacks mentions about sin and damnation – explaining that his goal is to make it known that God is smiling down upon all people.
"Our message is God is good. He's on your side and he wants you to live a blessed life. Part of the message too is that even if you've made mistakes you can get to where God wants you to be," Osteen said.
"I think I do talk about the negative things and adversities, but the Bible says it's the goodness of God that leads people to repent. I believe there's enough pushing people down. I like telling people you may have made mistakes, but God can forgive you," the Texas megachurch pastor explained.