With a platform that reaches millions, professional athletes have a golden opportunity to not only share the Gospel but to also insert their thoughts into the public discussion about some of society's biggest issues and use their wealth to help those in need.
The year 2017 was a grand one when it comes to athletes joining the public debate on issues such as racial tension and police brutality and for athletes using what God has provided them to give back to the less fortunate individuals in society.
With 2017 coming to a close, let's take a look at five Christian athletes who made an impact on and off the field or court.
The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback made quite a name for himself on the field during his breakout 2017 NFL season. Despite tearing his ACL earlier this month, Wentz still leads the NFL in touchdown passes and is considered to be a top MVP candidate.
But what many might not know about the 24-year-old who won four national championships at North Dakota State is that he is a devout Christian who is not afraid to share his faith.
Wentz is very vocal about his faith on Twitter. Earlier this year, he was asked to respond to criticism he receives for being so vocal about his faith on social media.
"If you're grounded in the world, criticism is hard," Wentz told the Faith on the Field radio show on Philadelphia's AM 610. "But Christ was nailed to a cross, and Paul went to jail for talking about Jesus, so I can stand a few negative tweets."
At a live event at Christian Eastern University in Philadelphia earlier this year, Wentz explained that Satan wants Christians to believe the "lie" that people can be saved through actions such as praying and going to church.
Wentz launched his charitable AO1 (Audience of One) Foundation just before the 2017 season began. The foundation exists to "demonstrate the love of God by providing opportunities and support for the less fortunate and those in need."
Carson Wentz and the AO1 foundation played an instrumental role in creating a 15-day YouVersion Bible study plan called "Professional Football Players on Humility & Surrender."
The study includes Wentz and Eagles teammates Trey Burton, Nick Foles, Zach Ertz, Chris Maragos and former Eagles teammate Jordan Matthews. The devotional features the players discussing scriptures that focus on "staying humble and walking in surrender to the Lordship of Jesus."
In addition to the work that the AO1 Foundation does to help the poor and provide unique opportunities for the physically challenged, Wentz and a number of his Eagles teammates also teamed up with members of the Washington Redskins earlier this season to raise money for International Justice Mission in their fight to end sex trafficking throughout the world.
Wentz and the AO1 Foundation also made headlines by raising over $120,000 to help provide service dogs to people with disabilities.
Arguably, no NFL player is more outspoken on current events and about their faith than 36-year-old Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson.
Watson, an African-American and the author of the 2015 book Under Our Skin: Getting Real About Race. Getting Free From the Fears and Frustrations That Divide Us has been hands on in establishing dialogue concerning the racial tensions that plague the nation.
In February, Watson held a forum on race and faith at a megachurch in Florida that included remarks from former NFL players, coaches and pastors involved in inner city ministry.
Watson, who appears on cable news networks every so often to give his take on racial issues, served as a voice of reason in September when the news cycle was dominated by President Donald Trump's feud with NFL players who protested during the national anthem by not standing.
Although Watson chose to stand for the national anthem, he provided some insight as to why NFL players were so upset when Trump suggested that players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired. Watson asserted in a television interview that Trump's remark was a "direct attack on our brotherhood."
Watson also speaks up about other issues besides race.
In June, Watson criticized Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders for grilling White House Deputy Budget Director nominee Russell Vought during a confirmation hearing about his evangelical beliefs on salvation.
"With all the talk about what's unAmerican, a U.S. senator attempting to disqualify a nominee because of his faith is exhibit A," Watson wrote in a Facebook post.
Watson also spoke at the 2017 March for Life in January, an annual pro-life rally in Washington, D.C.
Watson has argued that men are complicit in the nation's abortion problem because many men don't fulfill their duties to support pregnant women and don't fulfill their fatherly duties once the babies are born.
Watson released his 2017 book The New Dad's Playbook in May to give new fathers some guidance as they enter the uncharted territory of fatherhood.
In December, Watson and his One More Foundation gave 25 struggling Baltimore-area families $325 Walmart gift cards to help them shop for gifts for their kids for Christmas.
The 30-year-old Washington Redskin, who is one of the highest paid cornerbacks in the NFL, might be most known for starring in a widely played Samsung commercial in which he makes jabs at Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant.
However, nowhere is Norman a bigger star than in his hometown of Greenwood, South Carolina.
On the day before Thanksgiving, Norman took out a full page ad in his hometown newspaper, the Greenwood Index-Journal. The ad was more of an open letter to the leaders of the churches in the town to let them know that he is looking for ways to support their needs.
"This season, God has laid it on my heart as a servant of the crown to reach out and touch every church in Greenwood, S.C. with my tithes and offering of love and peace," Norman wrote in the letter. "It is my wish that everyone in your place of worship be touched by this blessing that I've been blessed by and now giving unto you."
Norman told the church leaders to send him a letter outlining the "concerns of the church" and the "needs of the youth." The deadline for churches to send their requests for help was Dec. 12.
"I can't fulfill the entire list, but I am going to do my very best with what God has blessed me with to uphold the needs and the standards of your church," Norman explained. "I will read through each one and get back to you all respectfully. I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart for being that beacon of hope to look up to and strive for greatness in your teachings and wessels on earth to reach our Father who is in Heaven."
There aren't too many people out there who can say they have donated their house and surrounding property to charity. But that is exactly what Texas Rangers all-star pitcher Cole Hamels and his wife, Heidi, did earlier this month.
The former World Series MVP and his wife, Heidi, donated their nearly $10 million, 32,000 square foot lake house and 100 acres of land on Table Rock Lake in Missouri to a Christian camp called Camp Barnabas.
Camp Barnabas provides summer memories to individuals with special needs and chronic illnesses. The Hamels' donation marked the largest donation that the camp has ever received.
"There are tons of amazing charities in Southwest Missouri. Out of all of these, Barnabas really pulled on our heartstrings," Hamels said in a statement. "Seeing the faces, hearing the laughter, reading the stories of the kids they serve; there is truly nothing like it. Barnabas makes dreams come true, and we felt called to help them in a big way."
Without even stepping foot on an NFL field in the 2017 season, Kapernick, who professes to be a Christian, was arguably still the most controversial player in the league.
Kaepernick, a former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, started a trend within the NFL of players sitting or kneeling during the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner" during the 2016 season. The trend reached its peak this season with more players than ever protesting after President Donald Trump stated in September that people who protest during the anthem, like Kaepernick, should be fired.
As there can be much debate about whether the impact that Kaepernick has had in the last two seasons has been positive or negative, there is no denying the fact that Kaepernick started a league-wide trend of football players raising awareness for what they perceive to be racial injustice when it comes to police brutality against African Americans.
Although Kaepernick has gained many fans through his protest, he continues to remain unsigned.
Kaepernick and many progressives attribute the fact that he remains unsigned to some sort of league-wide collusion among owners to keep him out of the league following the protests. Kaepernick even filed a grievance under the collective bargaining agreement against the NFL owners.
Critics have claimed that Kaepernick remained unsigned because he wasn't a top talent worthy of taking a risk on, considering the backlash teams have received to the anthem protests.
"It is really not about his ability," one unnamed team executive told ESPN. "It's about the risk of what happens to the team concept when you sign a guy — a quarterback — who has put his personal agenda ahead of what we are all charged to do, which is put the team first. As a team builder, I cannot risk that happening again, especially for a borderline starter who needs the entire offense catered to his style."
Apart from his protesting, Kaperick has made questionable decisions about his attire and groups he gives money to.
In 2016, Kaepernick received heat for wearing a T-shirt honoring deceased Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and was pressed on it by a Cuban reporter. Kaepernick responded by defending the brutal dictator and the communist government.
Kaepernick was also criticized in 2016 for wearing socks that depicted cops as pigs.
This year, Kapernick also reportedly donated $25,000 to a group named after Assata Shakur, who was convicted of first degree murder of a New Jersey state trooper and is a former member of a black nationalist guerilla group.