Last week, I wrote about Ryan Broyles, wide receiver for the Detroit Lions. Today, I will feature Broyles’ college teammate and friend Landry Jones. The two teamed up to re-write the record books at Oklahoma. They share a passion for football, for being the best they can be and for impacting their world for the Kingdom of God.
Landry Jones has been immersed in football his whole life. He was even named after legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry. The fourth round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013 was the New Mexico High School player of the year in 2007. He was highly recruited for top college programs and chose Oklahoma. But there was already a star quarterback at OU – Sam Bradford was having a great career and would be hard to displace. Landry found himself on the sidelines for the first time in a long time. And that was not easy for him to take. In came feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and insignificance. But through that experience, God was at work. Jones, a life-long church attender, met the one true God and surrendered his life to Him.
You can learn more about the story in this video from IamSecond.
Landry would not stay on the sidelines for long. During his sophomore year, Bradford battled injuries that eventually ended his season andhis college career. That meant Jones would take over as the starting QB. He would go on, as mentioned, to a record breaking career at Oklahoma and a spot in the NFL. Jones will keep playing as long as God allows, and wants to work as a pastor or chaplain when his playing days are over.
Now, on the Steelers roster, Jones again is waiting for his chance to start, but he is using his place and his influence to share his beliefs about God. One of the most fascinating articles that I found about Landry Jones was this one from outsports.com. In it, we read an exchange that occurs between the interviewer and Jones about gay athletes in the NFL. Jones answers the questions without compromising his beliefs in what the Bible says, nor without offending the interviewer, who at the end of the article calls Jones one of his new favorite players. When asked if there was a conflict between Christians and gays, Jones responded “There is no conflict … People are people and God tells us to love everybody. And so that’s what I do.” The interviewer, not wanting a canned, ready-made response, continued in the conversation and was surprised by what Jones said.
The interviewer adds this thought about his conversation with Jones. “We may not see eye-to-eye on this issue, but that’s not going to affect how he treats me. There was no mention of hell. No mention of sin. No comparison to drug use or robbing a bank. Instead, there was a level of respect in his words.” Here are my takeaways from Jones’ story.
1- God calls us to love everybody – We hear it said that “all sin is the same” but do our actions reflect that truth? We can tend to diminish some sins and elevate others on the spectrum of severity. We turn up our nose at something like murder and tend to justify things like gossip or greed. The reality is that all sin renders us undeserving of eternity with God. But he offers forgiveness and reconciliation to any who believe in Jesus giving His life to pay our debt. Jones words and actions show that he understands that condemning people for their sin is not what we are here for. We are here to show the love of God to all people so they can meet the one who gives purpose and meaning to life. He is able to convey the magnitude of God’s love to the point where the outsports reporter admires Jones’ truthfulness and considers him one of his favorite players.
2- God meets us at our lowest point – This part of Jones’ story connected with me. Jones speaks about feeling lost, alone and insignificant when he was on the bench. He was used to being “the man”. When he had to wait his turn, he struggled. As a younger man, I battled feelings of insignificance and depression. I knew a lot about God, but I didn’t really think it was all true. It was through an amazing, God-led experience that I came to know that God is real and He keeps his promises. He has gone to great lengths to show Himself to all of us. He reminds us that apart from Him, we are lost, lonely and doomed. But He is real, and when we make him the most important part of our lives, He will lead us on an amazing adventure that will connect us with the God who created the world and everything in it. Give Him a chance to let you know that He is real and He wants you to know Him.