November 12 – Red Letters – “You Will Fish for People”

Read Matthew 4:19

Years ago, I saw Tony Dungy play quarterback for the Minnesota Gophers when they played at Ohio stadium in Columbus. I was a student at Ohio State. Tony was a standout player and he was also a standout person. I later learned that he was a Christian.

Dungy is now an analyst on NBC. I believe he is following the command of Jesus that we read about in Matthew 4:19 and is a fisher of people on TV, where non-believers may be watching football.

It is not easy.

As a commentator for “Football Night in America” after the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots in a recent Super Bowl, Tony ruffled feathers with his congratulatory statement about the Eagles quarterback.  “Nick Foles told me last week that he felt the Lord had him in Philadelphia for a special moment and he played like it tonight.”

Some sports fans responded on Twitter:

Fan: “Unbelievable that you would use your employer, NBC sports, to spout this nonsense on the air.”

Another fan: “Stuff your bigotry, Tony.”

Tony: “Why is it bigoted to believe in Jesus Christ? I don’t follow you.”

“Does that mean the Lord hated the Patriots?” the fan responded. “Does NBC want you preaching on air?”

“No. They want me to give my opinion and that’s what I did. I’m wrong a lot, but I believe I was right this time,” Tony answered in defense of his original statement about Foles. “NBC pays me to express my opinion. And it was my opinion that Nick Foles would play well because his Christian faith would allow him to play with confidence. And that he’s a good quarterback. I think I was right on both counts.”

The fan responded with, “If a player told you he worshiped Satan and felt strongly that was the reason he succeeded, would you report that? Or his sincere belief that there was no God and that gives him great clarity by limiting distraction – would you report that? I HIGHLY DOUBT IT. You are a self-serving fraud.”

Tony said, “You don’t know me well enough then. If NBC sent me to do a story on you, I would report exactly what you told me. I wouldn’t try to paint you as something you’re not. Can we do the same for the Christian players?”

What do we learn from Tony? Let’s fish where we are. We can fish for people in our world today by looking for opportunities in our work, our hobby and, certainly, in our neighborhoods and families. Talk about spiritual things and Christian events or stories you have recently read. Talk to people about great Christian examples and characteristics you have seen in an actor, actress, athlete, politician, pastor or neighbor. Talk about what you are praying for. You’re not out to win an argument but to soften their heart to the good news of the gospel. Tony was a great example of this truth.

Be aware of opportunities to fish . . . someone might be searching!

Tom Weckesser

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