Monday, January 16, 2012

Tim Tebow and the State of Christianity

            If you followed the NFL playoffs this weekend or watched the ensuing coverage, you have certainly seen that the New England Patriots defeated Tim Tebow 45-10.  By listening to the talking heads on TV and reading the words of stone-throwing journalists, it seems that it was indeed fifty-three players versus one, and that the poor Christian quarterback fared like his ancestors of antiquity when facing the lions at the Roman Colosseum.

            Back in reality, we all know that football is a team sport and ultimately all players share in both victory and defeat.  Is Tim Tebow a great passer?  No, but in time he may become a solid one.  Is he a great football player?  I would argue that he is, both in terms of athletic ability and his ability to motivate teammates.  Most importantly, and without contest, Tebow is a credit to both humanity and Christianity.  We are talking about a man who praises his opponents for their victories over him, who won’t bask in the spotlight afforded by his own victories, and who spent his spring breaks in college in The Philippines serving those who truly are less fortunate by providing medical care and upgrading their living conditions by whatever means were available.

            This is not a sports column, but rather a brief look at the state of Christianity in the American public eye.  I am certainly not a doomsayer.  I hate it when people do nothing but complain about how “everything is so bad”.  Instead, I am pointing out Biblical truth through the life of America’s most popular athlete.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.”- John 15:18-19

            Those, of course, are the words of Christ spoken to the twelve disciples.  Several verses in Scripture allude to Satan’s role as ruler of “the world” (See 1 John 4:4).  In modern translation and in short, I believe the reason Tebow is hated by many is because he reminds them of their unfulfilled potential for good from one of the world’s largest platforms.  To their credit, living a righteous life is indeed incredibly difficult.  Married Christian men will readily admit to you that it is hard to keep their eyes off the opposite sex.  It’s easy to find a reason not to give up your time for volunteering in hopes that others will fill those roles before you feel obligated to.  Tebow finds a way to throw off the chains of fame and criticism to lead a victorious life that is impacting the lives of many for good.

            In theory, we should say that Tebow is doing his job as a Christian.  Christ was unjustly hated by His own people for opening the eyes of the blind, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and lame, and providing a living example of how to be a model citizen and human.  The Jews of Christ’s time expected their Messiah to be a military leader that would lead them to national glory and overthrow the foreign rule that had been prevalent in their land and over their people for centuries; when He professed that he was the long-awaited Messiah, they killed him on grounds of blasphemy because he didn’t deliver what they had expected, earthly victory.

            Similarly, Tebow doesn’t fit the bill of a typical superstar or celebrity.  He’d rather provide hope for sick and dying kids instead of using his spare time to gratify himself.  Americans are accustomed to the James Deans of the celebrity world- those who disregard authority and put forth an image of individuality and “coolness”.  These lifestyles, as we can learn from Dean’s, are always empty and self-destructive in the end.

            When we see good political candidates who are pro-life and promote responsible lifestyles and traditional values like marriage, the left always brands them as “bigots” and “homophobes.”  Texas Governor and current GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry promoted “The Response”, an August 2011 prayer event, and the media responded like he had just ordered them to be shut down.  Christianity is the religion our nation was founded upon and from which the foundations of our Constitution were drawn up.

            Christianity should not be foreign to the people of this country, especially when a vast majority of our people still claim adherence to the faith.  We don’t need to go door to door with tracts or stand on the corner of busy intersections with “Repent or Die” signs that only turn people away.  We are to spread our faith with the actions of our life.

“…faith by itself, if not accompanied by works, is dead.”- James 2:17

            No one wants to be hated, but the only way for true change to come is for leaders to be hated for their virtuous actions.  Those who do the hating are of the world.  Similarly, those who hate Tebow are of the world.  Have you heard anyone in your church rail on for a half-hour about how much they despise Tim Tebow?  There are some people who have opinions that just don’t matter; therefore, we shouldn’t care what they think of our conduct, so long as it is in keeping with the teachings of Christ.

We’ve seen that many leaders adored by “the world” have recently brought us the painful realities of “social justice”, “marital equality”, and a nanny state in an attempt to retain office and appease the constituent that wouldn’t vote for them if they acted in accordance with the morals of our national foundation, Christianity.

            It is much better to take a hard and unpopular right over an easy wrong.  The further down the proverbial slippery slope public opinion goes, the harder it will be to reverse and go back in the right direction.  Americans have always been known for an indomitable spirit of reliance upon faith and self, not government, to overcome all obstacles and make something of their lives.  This is why we are called “the land of opportunity.”  The time for teaching right principles and making a stand for the hard rights in life is now and the results of doing so are worth more in the long term than your short-term popularity.  Remember the belt of truth and make a stand for what is true.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”- II Timothy 3:16-17

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