NBA Star Jonathan Isaac on Why He Stands for Faith: ‘Jesus Christ Is the Answer’

Photo from Jonathan Isaac’s Instagram

NBA Star Jonathan Isaac on Why He Stands for Faith: ‘Jesus Christ Is the Answer’

By Movieguide® Staff

Nearly two years ago, on July 31, 2020, Jonathan Isaac became the first NBA player to stand for the national anthem while teammates and peers around the league knelt.

Isaac recently published his first book called Why I Stand, which explains why he chose to abstain from wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt and kneel with the rest of the league.

In the book, Isaac explains that he could not find the answer to life’s many hardships when he looked to the world.

“I believe that Jesus Christ is the answer because he’s been the answer for me and I’m able to put it into a book and share my story and my testimony,” Isaac told The Christian Post. “To me, that gives ‘the stand’ its backbone.”

Read More: ‘Why I Stand’: ​​NBA Star Jonathan Isaac to Release Book About Faith and Freedom

Although the New York native grew up in a Christian household, Isaac confessed that his life before and even during basketball did not reflect a true relationship with Jesus.

“I grew up in a Christian household. But I think I share the testimony of most people when you grow up in a Christian household, there’s this almost an eagerness to get out and to experience the world and all that it has to offer,” he explained.

Isaac said that he did not know how to handle hardships like his parents’ divorce or moving to Florida, and anxiety became a part of his everyday life.

“I went from a really predominantly black culture into Naples, Florida, which was really white,” he said. “I really struggled with fitting in and there’s a number of stories early on in my childhood where I failed to fit in and it made me self conscious for the first time in my life. I started to develop a fear and anxiety about being rejected by people.”

In his anxiety, Isaac said that he turned to basketball.

“Basketball pretty much became my world and my identity because I found everything that I was searching for,” he said. “The girls started to like me, the fellas wanted to be around me, they wanted to play ball with me because I was so good. So I just poured everything into it, but I was still struggling with those same things in the background, fear and anxiety.”

“Basketball really gave me that mask of ‘I’m okay. I’m at peace. I’m doing great.’ But at the same time, I never wanted to not play well because I always thought that I was going to lose everything that I had worked for,” he continued.

Unfortunately, that feeling of looming failure followed Isaac into his collegiate and professional careers. Despite being ranked as a top-five player in the country and going sixth overall in the 2017 draft.

“I’m on the forefront. Everybody thinks of how great of a basketball player I am. But I’m still struggling with these anxieties and these fears in the back of my head saying, ‘I’m gonna destroy everything. Everyone’s gonna reject me. I’m not going to be loved anymore,” Isaac said.

However, Isaac’s life changed after a season-ending injury and a comment from a stranger in an elevator.

“He says to me, ‘I can tell you how to be great.’ I say, ‘Tell me,'” Isaac recalled. “He says, ‘You have to know Jesus.’ I’m like, ‘Have to know Jesus? Man, I’m a Christian, I grew up Christian.'”

But Isaac knew that he lacked a personal relationship with Jesus.

“I was hell bent on experiencing everything that the NBA had to offer. I had that kind of cliche Christianity of I go to church from time to time or when times get tough, I pray, but it wasn’t something that was real or tangible,” he said. “From that moment on, my life got flipped completely upside down. I really got a sense of God intervening in my life and leading my footsteps and ordering things in order to get my attention.”

“I finally said, ‘Wow, God, you love me for me. I don’t have to work for it. I don’t have to be perfect,'” he continued. “I was so used to walking around with so much anxiety and trying to plan what I would say, plan what I would do, because I didn’t want anybody to reject me. So it was the first time in my life that I could take a breath and be like, ‘I’m okay. God loves me for me. I don’t have to perform. I don’t have to make a shot.”

From the moment of his true conversion, Isaac said that his perspective on everything in his life changed. Isaac became an ordained minister, wrote Why I Stand, and became vocal about his Christian beliefs.

Those beliefs were tested immediately when race, racism, BLM, and justice were on everyone’s minds. However, Isaac chose to stand for the freedom found only in Christ.

“Any political structure or ideology, doesn’t, in itself, have the necessary tool for salvation,” he explained.” Which is what I ultimately believe is what everybody needs. I look out into the world, I can see that racism is not the only thing that plagues the hearts of men. But I know based on what I’ve experienced, in my life, that the gospel is what changes the hearts of men.”

“In the moment of standing in the bubble, I’m saying, ‘Look, I see all the things that you see, but I cannot think of a greater message or anecdote for the times that we’re living in other than the gospel,” he added. “I believe that if we can choose to love people the way that God loves us, which is in spite of our faults, in spite of our mistakes, in spite of our sin, and we can choose to forgive people the way that God forgives us and ultimately get back to God in the first place, we can have the real change that everyone is aiming to get to, but is trying to do it by alternative measures.”

Isaac said that sharing your belief with others begins by standing up for those beleifs.

“So much of the book is about being willing and able to stand on what it is that you believe in,” he said. “What I’ve tried my best to do is think about what I’m saying and search myself if I really do believe it. I do, because of the things that I’ve experienced in my own life, and I’ve settled on the fact that I’m going to be willing to stand up and share my opinions the same way that someone else is standing up or kneeling for the national anthem to share theirs.”

“From the Christian perspective, we have all been at a place where we were outside of Christ,” he continued. “Ultimately, the only reason why we’re Christian in the first place is because God loved us first. God came after me. I wasn’t checking for him. Yes, justice is important and people should have to face the consequences of their actions. But I would want if I’m in a situation where my sin is caught on tape and everybody has seen it, I would want mercy in that situation. And so I’m going to give mercy in that situation.

“With everything that’s happening right now… there isn’t another answer outside of finding your identity in Christ. That is actually sustainable and worthwhile.”