Lately, there have been more Facebook status updates concerning the new NY Knick phenomenon: Jeremy Lin. His work ethic is respectable and his story of being released from the Warriors very moving. Even his humble Christian attitude is extremely attractive, as the Wall Street Journal is calling him the new Tim Tebow, but there seems to be a need for this reminder, particularly for Christians in NYC: Jeremy Lin is secondary.
This is not a call to stop the craze for ‘Linsanity’ but rather to use his public attraction to call attention to a pressing issue (dare I say more pressing than his likeness to Tebow) in the New York City area. Churches that meet in public schools are in danger of potentially losing their worship space triggered by the evicting of a small Bronx evangelical church this past December. Tim Keller, Senior Pastor of Redeemer Church in NYC, blogged the post, “On NYC Schools’ Decision to Ban Churches“, which focuses our attention to the importance of the issue:
I am grieved that New York City is planning to take the unwise step of removing 68 churches from the spaces that they rent in public schools. It is my conviction that those churches housed in schools are invaluable assets to the neighborhoods that they serve. Churches have long been seen as positive additions to communities. Family stability, resources for those in need, and compassion for the marginalized are all positive influences that neighborhood churches provide. There are many with first-hand experience who will claim that the presence of churches in a neighborhood can lead to a drop in crime.
The great diversity of our city means that we will never all agree completely on anything. And we cherish our city’s reputation for tolerance of differing opinions and beliefs. Therefore, we should all mourn if disagreement with certain beliefs of the church is allowed to unduly influence the formation of just policy and practice.
I disagree with the opinion written by Judge Pierre Leval that: “A worship service is an act of organized religion that consecrates the place in which it is performed, making it a church.” This is an erroneous theological judgment; I know of no Christian church or denomination that believes that merely holding a service in a building somehow “consecrates” it, setting it apart from all common or profane use. To base a legal opinion on such a superstitious view is surely invalid. Conversely, I concur with Judge John Walker’s dissenting opinion that this ban constitutes viewpoint discrimination and raises no legitimate Establishment Clause concerns.
A disproportionate number of churches that are affected by this prohibition are not wealthy, established communities of faith. They are ones who possess the fewest resources and many work with the poor. Redeemer has many ties with those churches and their pastors, and our church community invests time and resources to assist them to be good neighbors in their communities.
Let them be those good neighbors. I am hopeful that the leaders of New York City and the legislators of New York State will see the value of a society that encourages all spheres of culture—the church, government, education, business, etc—to work together for human flourishing.
So let the FB status updates and craze for Jeremy Lin continue to flood our news feeds, I, too, am encouraged by his success and humility. Yet it is not the NBA, the NY Knicks, nor Jeremy Lin who hold the keys to the Kingdom, that was given to the Church of Jesus Christ. Let’s raise awareness and do what we can to keep the churches of NYC from homelessness.
(There seems to have been positive development as stated in this NY Editorial, but let’s continue to hope for more.)