We won’t watch Tebow play any more games this year. And I’m okay with it.
Let me clearly state…
- I respect Tim Tebow.
- I love football and enjoy a good game no matter who is playing.
I respect Tim Tebow for living out his faith on – and off – the field. It’s no easier for him than anyone else who publicly lives out their faith. In fact, it’s likely more difficult because he lives in the nationally broadcast eye. He regularly deals with people who judge him – not only for his football skills but for his faith. Not everyone agrees with his bold expression of faith. And then there are those who do, and it’s some of these people I struggle with the most.
That’s why I want to shout: “Beware of your adoration of Tebow!” There’s a fine line between respect and idolizing.
You must not worship or serve any idol. (Exodus 20:4)
When we start searching for “proof” that one person is superior to others because of the numbers of a football game or the “success” of a player, we enter a danger zone. Success is not measured in earthly wins or losses. God extends blessings to people in every situation, visibility, popularity, social strata, and earthly beauty. He reaches people where they are. His idea of the ladder of success isn’t ours. There are people on every rung of the ladder who are close to God and those who aren’t. It’s not where we are in everyone else’s expectations and definitions. It’s where we are in our relationship with God – not where we’re rationalizing we are but where God says we are.
Faithful people win by earthly standards and lose by earthly standards. How they respond draws them closer to God or creates space within the relationship. Tebow seems to (at least publicly) handle both wins and losses with grace. I can’t fault him. But there are many people’s responses that make me cringe, especially the ones equating Tebow and the Bronco’s success with God’s preferential blessing. God cares about every detail of our lives. Even football isn’t trivial to him. If it’s important to us, he wants us to share it with him, but God also wants us to replace our perspective with his perspective. If he says our priorities are messed up and need some major deconstruction and reconstruction, it’s time to get to work.
When we project our own definitions of blessings and curses, ability and status, onto those of God, we’re in a danger zone, and we need to turn and run.
The most ludicrous line of reasoning I heard leading up to this weekend’s game was an attempt to pit Tebow against Brady as good versus evil because of the stats of Brady’s draft. You can laugh. I hope most people take such silliness with a large grain of salt, but there are others who cling to such ridiculous reasoning.
For every truth spoken, there are innumerable untruths spoken. The most dangerous are those untruths mixed with a dash of truth, making it taste enough like truth that it’s easy to swallow and digest.
I don’t personally know Tim Tebow, but my impression is that he’d never want to hinder someone’s faith. Let’s make sure we don’t do the same, not because it’s not what Tebow would want but because it’s what God wants. Let’s honor God in everything we say and do, whether it’s about football or the Bible. We’ll make some mistakes along the way, but when we learn from them, our faith will grow along the journey.
The mayhem that’s surrounded Tebow and the Broncos will drastically die down in the coming days, but I hope to carry the lessons I’ve learned from the fervor into other areas of my life.
I want to be mindful of the moments my inadequately considered comments or rationalization spew statements about the character of God and his will that are misleading and inaccurate. I hope to hold my tongue or be honest in my uncertainty when I speak.
Will you join me in the commitment?
As a Christ-follower, I can respect others, but I can only remain in the footsteps of one. No matter how enamored I become with someone, no matter how much I love someone, no matter how I much I appreciate someone’s example, I will not be deterred or distracted as I try to place my steps in the footsteps of Jesus. It won’t be easy, but he already told us it wouldn’t be.
Enter through the narrow gate. The gate is wide and the road is wide that leads to hell, and many people enter through that gate. But the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to true life. (Matthew 7:13-14)