Tim Tebow and How To Be A Bad Christian Witness

He is the super football hero poster boy for adulating young boys and fawning middle-aged women. He’s a lightning rod of criticism for the skeptical media and scorning masses. He’s a flamboyant winner who wears his faith and emotions on his sleeve.

He’s now 6-1 7-1 as a starting QB and crowned as the comeback King of the NFL.

Tim Tebow is actually not the primary subject of this post (I know the title is a bit subversive.) We are. More specifically, “we” as in: The Christians who may put Tebow-like characters on a lofty pedestal OR on unwarranted blast are the ones who need to heed our “Christian witness”.

You could replace “Tebow” with “Bieber” or “Newton” and it could have the same effect.

The way we could be potentially bad “Christian Witnesses” would be by publicly mishandling very public Christian personas such as Tebow. There are two ditches we can fall into, both equally treacherous.

Tebow is a hypocrite

Read any article on a major internet news source that sheds a slightly positive light on Tebow’s faith and core values. Then scroll down to the comments sections and witness the vitriol spewed in Christianity’s direction on account of Tebow’s public persona. An all-around nice guy and solid role model is painted as a fanatically religious loon with ulterior motives.

The last thing a Christian should do is to jump into that fray (personally guilty on that account). The world of moral relativism has enough reason to hate the absolute truth claims Tebow utters in nearly every interview like “Jesus is Lord…” Most Christians who would beseech Tebow to tone it down take issue with his methodology. When he talks, or bows, or points to the heavens after a big play all of it can seem a bit showy.

But just because these displays are not the way we would do it does not make them inherently bad. Trust me, as a Florida State fan I spent four years searching for legitimate reasons for personally disliking the Heisman and National Championship winner. Other than him being a proud Gator and 4-0 against my beloved team, I couldn’t find any juicy material that stuck.

There is a list a mile long of drug addicts, sex objects, and women abusers who are propped up as legitimate role models in our culture.

Tim Tebow may be many things, but a fraud doesn’t appear to be one of them.  What he is, in my opinion, he is sincerely. Herculean sports achievements and earnest Christian boldness may be joined together without contradiction.

There is no reason to hate on this phenomenon, Christian, just enjoy while it lasts. If the world will know Christians by how they “love one another”, then a good witness would be to love Tebow by praying for his perseverance in the faith, strength to withstand temptations before him, and even deeper grace to walk out the good confession he’s made.

Tebow is a god

This position takes the previous argument, kicks it to the curb, and runs wildly a million miles in the opposite direction.

I can’t prove this, but I have a sneaking suspicion. Let’s say tomorrow, *God forbid* Tebow was indicted on a seedy scandal of epic proportions that involved illegal drugs and illicit sex. I’m afraid the faith of many within contemporary Christendom would be almost irreparably shaken. I fear Tebow is the last vestige of purity and passion in sports and religion for too many. That’s a shame. Because that is way too much pressure for a young man to bear all alone. We have an unhealthy tendency to put legitimately good people on pedestals they never were created for. This is to their demise.

Look, I know Tebow can get Chick Fil A on Sundays. I know he has been a heart donor….twice. I know when Alexander Bell invented the telephone he had three missed calls from Tim Tebow.

But seriously, doesn’t our hyperbole speak volumes about what we really want to be true?

If you are a Tebow apologist/admirer here is a revelation you may or may not be able to process: Tim Tebow has morning breath. He puts on his Chuck Norris pajamas one leg at a time like the rest of us. He may even have serious bouts with pride and insecurities. And he certainly wouldn’t want to be considered as a substitute to the Savior he so boldly claims.

The minute any man is elevated to mythical status prepare to be thoroughly disappointed. As I’ve heard one saint say from the pulpit, “There aren’t any great men of God…only a great God Who has lavished His great grace on great sinners.”

An effective Christian witness doesn’t merely point men to other men.

There is a way we may talk about Christian leaders that neglects the grace of God in their lives and exalts rather some hidden virtue of character within them. But what does any man have that he did not receive?

If we are not careful our objects of worship will begin to look more like handsome young ripped carefully promoted studs instead of a weak abandoned terrifying bloody mess of Lamb on the cross. That would be a tragedy of eternal consequence.

So, thank God for Tim Tebow. But thank God even more for His Son who died on a cross so filthy sinners like us (you, me and Tebow) could be forgiven and free forevermore in His presence.

Let’s pray that would be the all consuming vision Tebow detractors and supporters would get from his life and message.

Bryan Daniels

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Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

29 thoughts on “Tim Tebow and How To Be A Bad Christian Witness”

  1. Its amazing the vitriol even accidentally challenging someone’s belief system can generate. Its why we can’t have rational conversations about politics or religion especially in any kind of a public setting. Its almost as if the right to free speech does not extend to the very arenas (political and religious) that they were enumerated to protect.

    I gotta admit I get almost as incensed by Barack Obama’s arrogant economic and political speeches (arrogant in my opinion) as do many non-Christians with Tebow’s bold Christianity. I’m pretty sure both reactions come from the pride and are caused by having our closely held beliefs challenged. It should never be surprising that whether Muslim or atheist or Christian, many of us tend to get seriously upset when someone publicly and confidently challenges or attacks our beliefs.

    When I pause and think about it, I’m not sure if I’m more disgusted by those who want to shut up viewpoints that I agree with or with those who boldly espouse viewpoints I find morally, intellectually, or spiritually reprehensible.

    I think Christians who boldly and lovingly follow the example of Christ will be socially crucified. “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

  2. A well formed bolt sir!!

    I have been guilty of the first in the past but actually found myself defending him recently.

    I enjoy that espn is using tebow to hate on LeBron and Romo.

  3. I was reading ‘The Week’ (magazine) a few days ago and was intrigued by the picture of an American Footballer kneeling in the stadium praying. The article said the style in which he was kneeling and praying was called ‘Tebowing’ and the name of the man kneeling was Tim Tebow. The week following I saw this ‘tebowing’ picture flashed all across the media and every time I saw it I wondered what he could be praying about.

    Was he praying – “In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant . .” [2Kings 5:18] or was he praying “deliver me from this evil” [Matt 6:13] or was he just a nominal lost Christian praying, “Lord bless this game and help us to win that You might get all the glory”?!

    Yes I know this sounds very unloving and harsh, but fact is ‘Professional Sports’ be it football, soccer, cricket or whatever – it is an Abomination to God! And you cannot take something which God hates and clean it up to ‘give Him glory’! To take that which is an outright obvious abomination to God and use it in His service is presumptuous, a species of self-will, laying us open to the charge of “Who hath required this at your hand?” [Isaiah 1:12]; and for us to ask God’s blessing upon the same is only seeking to make Him of our mind. Let us not forget the solemn warning pointed by the death of Uzzah, when the Lord God made a breach in Israel because they “sought Him not after the due order” [1Chronicles 15:13). We must keep closely to God’s “due order” if we are to have His approbation in anything we use to glorify Him!

    Are you telling me that God hates all sports and is against it? Let us make this plain – it is not wrong or sinful for a father to take his children out to the park to toss a Frisbee or a ball and have some fun. Neither is it sinful for the neighborhood kids to come together for a friendly ball game. But ‘professional sports’ at both college and state level is more than just a ‘game’! It is a religion and an idolatrous one at that. And as we shall see it has all the features of that which constitutes what the Scripture terms as ‘works of the flesh’! [Gal 5:19-21]

    “That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God”! [Luke 16:15]

    This verse alone should settle it once and for all whether ‘professional sports’ is well pleasing to God or an abomination to Him.

    Read more – http://www.scribd.com/doc/77797509/Professional-Sports-an-Abomination-to-God

    1. I appreciate your provoking thoughts and on most accounts I usually agree with you (except now).

      Just because people enjoy sports competitions played at a high level does not mean they are being idolatorous. Any good thing could potentially be idolatory (sports can bring it out), but that doesnt’ make the thing in and of itself bad; It’s the human heart that is evil (Jer 17:9) not human competition on a professional level. Paul even alludes to the national sports competition (Greek Olympic games) of his day and he doesn’t lamabast it as inherently evil, he just sees it as an opportunity for an analogy of spiritual things. (1 cor 9:25) Anything can be redeemed…

      Luke 16:15 doesn’t settle much when you try to apply it to such a wide context as you do. Jesus is speaking to religious Pharisees who were lovers of money and praise of man. Are there lovers of money in the sports world? Sure. There are also lovers of money in business, politics, ministry, and music business but that makes none of those sectors an “abomination” (It’s the heart that’s the key). There are good and bad people in every situation. I could name a million things people “highly esteem” (good food, technology we’re using right now, travel, laughter) but that doesn’t mean that the verse applies to all of them….

      1. To say that ‘Professional Sports’ is an abomination to God is to make oneself unpopular, especially with ‘Christians’ whose IDOL is sports. And sadly, not everyone is willing to pay that price!

        1. Unpopular maybe, but also unbiblical. Luke 16:15 doesn’t say professional sports are an abomination, it says that wicked religious hearts (the Pharisees) who love greed and the praise of man are an abomination. To equate that specific meaning with the incredibly complex and wide blanket of “pro sports” is stretching the text beyond the bounds of good hermeneutics…

  4. Just read this post for the first time. Regarding the Tebow thing, it blew me away that this one guy was generating so much buzz. But I think it has little to do with Tebow, and everything to do with God exposing hearts. And I don’t think it matters which team you’re on (believing, non-believing), I think God will move in ways to confront us with our own heart attitudes. It’s been amazing to see the “posture” people have had. So what’s our posture? It’s crazy, because Tebow wouldn’t be a big deal if the people with a prideful posture weren’t making him a big deal. Irony.

  5. I’ve also wondered if Tebow will somehow stumble. I hope not. TV evangelists and others have made a mockery of Christianity for years. Great writing!

  6. The whole phrase from Luke 16:15, that which is highly esteemed among men, means that which is highly exalted or lifted up and made into an object of worship. That which is highly exalted can be a person, place, thing, or even an idea. It’s a matter of it being made into a god that displaces God as the Sovereign of our lives.

    As our good brother, Chief, said, it’s not a matter of sports or Tebow or anything else being inherently bad or evil. It’s the fact that people prostitute themselves before demons that are behind every idol. They bow the knee not to Jesus the Messiah but some other despotic god-that-is-not-God. Isaiah wrote nearly 3,000 years ago that God will not share His glory with another. This is why what is highly esteemed or exalted by men as an abomination in the eyes of God the Father.

    @mikejeshurun, brother, if your rendering of Luke 16:15 includes all major sports as an abomination to God, then you’d better include your profession, the car you drive, the house in which you live, the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the air you breathe, the water you drink, the toilet paper you use, money, your family and friends and coworkers, and so on. Everything on earth is held in high regard by some person on earth. Taking the English transliteration of the Scripture out of context is dangerous to say the least. As Chief pointed out, it’s not the object of interest that is the abomination as much as it is the heart of the person idolizing that object.

    We can take a plastic straw and cover it in gold plating and set it upon a pedestal and throw a party over the newly decorated straw and declare that this straw is now the greatest thing on earth! In fact it could become the God that delivered us from Egypt! For, that is exactly what the Israelites did in the Sinai wilderness with the golden calf. They formed an idol out of ordinary objects and worshiped it. They turned their backs on the one, true, living God, YHWH, for a hunk of metal shaped by their own hands.

    It goes all the way back to the days of Nimrod and his tower of Babel. The tower, itself, was nothing more than a building constructed of stone and other resources. The tower itself wasn’t the issue. It was merely a tool to achieve the goal of the people, reaching the heavens to dethrone God as King! IF they’d had some other device to do so, they would have. It was their hearts that were filled with abominations. They desired, as did Satan, to be in control and rule the world. They were so united in spirit, soul, and body (language) that God had to come down personally to inspect the situation, judged it, and decided that they had too much power in the oneness of mind and split them up by language and scattered them across the globe.

    For every tree is known by its own fruit…A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great…and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

    I invite you to take a cruise through my book, “Warning: Don’t Ignore the Signs of God’s Grace.” You can download it here, . I deal with topic of God’s grace and the numerous signs He’s given mankind foretelling, telling, and retelling of His grace through the eons and how man built up his pride and highly esteemed himself only to the point of destruction. Yet, there is hope in Jesus, even for the worst of sinners. Jesus reminds us that he who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

    I would ask anyone and everyone who reads this article by Chief to reinspect their lives. We, all as disciples of Christ, claim to be true followers of Messiah, but what idol has crept into your life? Anything or anyone with whom or which you give more of your time than you do to God is an idol in your life. The Bible says we are to tear down and smash the idols and their altars and not allow them to exist. SO, what idol you allow to remain in the Promised Land of your heart? Is it TV? Music? Money? A person? Car? Home? Blogging? Books? What is the god-that-isn’t-God competing for your affection and worship? What do you highly esteem? Find it, identify it, and destroy it. Jehovah must be first in our lives no matter what!

    1. Don’t know why WP cut my link to my book, but it is truthintheword dot files dot wordpress dot com slash 2011 slash 04 slash warning-dont-ignore-the-signs-of-gods-grace dot pdf. Thanks.

      1. Thanks for sharing JD, and I completely agree with you; It’s a heart matter and we must smash the respective idols our fallen hearts produce on a daily basis. As Calvin said: “Our hearts are perpetual idol factories.” God bless you and your ministry sir!

  7. What a great way to put this. We need to be careful who we put in a place of worship. The Bible says that there is only who is worthy of worship, and it is not a man. It is God. Sometimes we need to be reminded of this.

  8. I totally agree. This may be one reason so many pastors, especially famous ones, fall. “Pride comes before a fall,” but those who put the pastors on a pedestal also bear some of the blame. We are all on an equal level. We are sinners. Some of us are sinners saved by grace. Others remain just sinners. Jesus died for all of us, but not all of us have chosen to accept the gift of His forgiveness.

  9. @jritterbrunson, Here is something else to keep in mind along those lines. MANY are CALLED but FEW are CHOSEN. Also, here’s food for thought. Although God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son for it, not everyone is chosen. The OT and NT say that God has a chosen remnant the will be his inheritance. Sure, we have to accept God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, but God chooses you. You don’t choose God!

  10. Ah, Tim Tebow.

    I really like what I know about this guy, but I’ve ne’er met him in real life.

    Thus far, from what I can gather, the leftists hate him because:

    He talks about that damned Jesus and is obviously doing that whole ‘Tebowing prayer stance’ on purpose to force his out-dated and homophobic religion on all of us. I mean, every single time Tebow has a microphone in front of him, he’s all, “Jesus-this, and Jesus-that”…can’t he just talk about how awesome he (Tim) is, like the other NFL players, and grab his crotch or thump his chest in bravado? Can’t he just be normal and have three kids out of wedlock with three different women? Geesh! Those Christians and their whole overbearing attitude of being Christians!

    Okay, rant off.

    All I can see is a guy blessed with athletic prowess, a hard-working attitude, a quick and genuine smile, humility, and he simply likes Jesus and wants to share Him with others when he can. Not a thing wrong with that, really.

    I don’t care about jocks or professional sports figures, but this Tim Tebow is the real deal. Good for you, Tim.

  11. The longer I live, the more I notice that as a whole, we humans have no middle ground. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, we always jump to the extreme other end to fix it. These extremes are what keeps sinking us into sin over and over again. There’s a healthy place called common sense, and I for one am decrying it in the public and private arenas, I think it’s a God-given gift, let’s use it!

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