The other night we were watching the Cavs and Pistons game on TV and my 8 year old son hit me with one of “those questions” I was not prepared to answer. The questions were simple, the answers were not.

Q: Hey Dad…is Lebron James a Christian?

A: I don’t know

Q: Hey Dad…is Tyler Hansbrough a Christian?

A: Of course..he went to North Carolina

A: Son, I don’t know. My guess is that because we don’t know, they might not be. Athletes that are Christian usually let everyone know. I’m not saying they are or are not, I just don’t know for sure.

I have to admit that I took the easy way out and said “I don’t know” on that first one. I figured that would end that line of questioning and we could move past it quickly. Before I knew it, things were getting serious. Within a matter of moments, my son had pulled out two heroes and asked if they were Christian. The directions that I could take this conversation were many. The answers racing through my head were few.  In the art of full disclosure, I don’t think I handled the situation appropriately. However I did catalog that moment for one of those times when we can re-visit and really talk about his question.

My wife and I count it a blessing that our three children have accepted Jesus in their heart. This interaction with my son offers me a “teachable moment” to explain that although people have certain characteristics, they are not automatically “Christian”. There are a lot of “good people” that are not saved and have no personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Again I underline that I have no idea about Lebron James and Tyler Hansbrough. With the forum that both have, I certainly pray they are. This is an opportunity to teach my son to pray for people we don’t have direct contact with.

It also allows me to show that we have the chance to impact the lives of others for Christ in whatever “arena” we are given. Our lives should be such a reflection on Christ that no one should ask or wonder “are they a Christian”.

In reflecting on this conversation later, I was reminded of the many times I have said “He’s a Christian” while watching some sporting event. Those words must have been “caught and not taught”. I am reminded that I need to be more careful in choosing and using those words. I also noted that my role and life are being watched.

Lord may my life and words reflect the man you want my son to be far beyond professional athletes. May we choose carefully those who we make “heroes”. May our lives be lived in such a way that we leave no room for doubt when they ask if we are a Christian.

**Update – Google searches for articles stating the faith of both Lebron and Hansbrough sadly produced no results. While not definative, it certainly doesn’t give me anything to report back to my son.