LISTEN: Novak Djokovic: ‘Before Being an Athlete, I am an Orthodox Christian’ (GLM #245)

He is a Serbian professional tennis player who is currently ranked the No. 1 player in the world in men’s singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). To date, he has won 75 titles, including 16 Grand Slam singles titles (a record seven Australian Open titles, five Wimbledon titles, three US Open titles and one French Open title), five ATP Finals titles, 33 ATP Tour Masters 1000 titles, and 12 ATP Tour 500 titles. Following his victory at the 2016 French Open, he became only the eighth player in history to achieve the Career Grand Slam and the third man to hold all four major titles at once, the first since Rod Laver in 1969, and the first ever to do so on three different surfaces. He is the first and only male player to have won all nine of the Masters 1000 tournaments. His latest win came just last Sunday at the 2019 Wimbledon tourney in in which he successfully defended his title by defeating Roger Federer in an epic, grueling five set final that lasted four hours and fifty seven minutes, the longest in Wimbledon history. He is a six-time ITF World Champion and a five-time ATP year-end No. 1 ranked player, having held the spot for over 250 weeks. He has won numerous awards, including the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year (four times) and the 2011 BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award. He serves as a Unicef ambassador for his native Serbia and has founded an eponymous foundation, which fosters education for disadvantaged children. 

Born in war-torn Belgrade, he grew up playing tennis there, starting at the age of four, when NATO imposed an embargo and bombed the city during the Kosovo War in 1999, causing great shortages of food. In his memoir, Serve to Win, he himself recounts how after stumbling and falling while scrambling to a bomb shelter one night, he looked up and saw a F-117 bomber release its cargo upon a hospital. As written in an article by God Reports, if you can play tennis while dodging bullets and standing in long lines for bread and milk, then almost nothing can unnerve you. After facing the hardships of war, the psychological games played by opponents on a tennis court are relatively tame to this dominating elite tennis player. His inner resolve has resulted in many come from behind victories. His highly-trained concentration level that screens out distractions of any form often befuddles his opponents. Now, at 32 years of age, he has cemented his place in history as one of the true greats of the sport. 

For all his success on the court and his status as a multimillionaire thanks to his tournament winnings and numerous advertising contracts, for him, his Christian faith comes first. The current No. 1 tennis player in the world is an Orthodox Christian, and he does not hesitate to say it publicly. In an interview with the UK’s Guardian, he described himself as an “orthodox Christian” but “less a religious person than a person of faith.” It is not uncommon to observe him invoking Christ during a meeting or wearing a cross around his neck as a public testimony to his Christian faith. In April 2011, he received the order of St. Sava in the first degree from Irenaeus, the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The order of St. Sava is the highest distinction in the Serbian Orthodox Church, and it was given to him especially for having contributed financially to the renovation of religious buildings in his native land of Serbia. During the ceremony, he said, “This is the most important title of my life, because before being an athlete, I am an Orthodox Christian.” 

His name is Novak Djokovic.

This is the “Chief of Sinners,” Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, reminding you of what the Bible says, that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” like you and me. Just as Novak trusts Jesus Christ as his Saviour, may I encourage you to do the same. Here is how:

  1. Accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “For there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.” Romans 3:23 reads: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” In fact, I am the chief of sinners, so don’t think that you’re alone.
  1. Accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
  1. Accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The Bible says in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
  1. Accept the fact that you cannot do anything to save yourself! The Bible states in Ephesians 2: 8, 9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
  1. Accept the fact that God loves you more than you love yourself, and that He wants to save you from hell. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
  1. With these facts in mind, please repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and pray and ask Him to come into your heart and save you this very moment. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Dear friend, if you are willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, please pray with me this simple prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

Remember, friend, Believe by faith. Share the faith. and Keep the faith!