What If Tim Tebow Were Anything But A Christian?
No matter where you fall on the Denver Broncos, you have to admire Tim Tebow for the way that he is leading his team. I would agree that his numbers are not the numbers of say Cam Newton at Carolina but he is doing what Cam doesn’t and that is he wins. Granted Denver is in a poor division but to lead any NFL team to victory is good in of itself. Yet the fascination with Tebow is not just what he does on the football field but with his faith. Here is a guy who was home schooled, his parents are missionaries, and he always spoke openly about his faith even at the University of Florida. Here is a guy who is clean, is a virgin, and is a hard worker on top of that.
And yet many problem dislike Tim Tebow. Part of it has to be his faith. Recently I saw where former Denver quarterback Jake Plummer said that he likes Tebow but is tired of hearing Tebow mention Jesus every time he gets the chance. Plummer stated, “We know he loves Jesus and that is good but do we keep have to hearing about it?” Some evangelicals are noted for agreeing with Plummer’s view of Tebow. ”He carries Jesus out there too much” is the complaint. I find that ironic coming from people who claim to know Jesus and seek to obey Him. How can we ignore glorifying Jesus whenever we get the chance? Is not our duty to make Jesus’ name known (Matthew 28:19)?
What is even more troublesome is what it would be like for Tim Tebow if he were anything but a committed evangelical Christian? Suppose Tebow was a Muslim. Remember when Mohammad Ali changed his name from Cassius Clay to Ali? The media had no problems (and still don’t) with Ali being a Muslim nor him praising Allah. Steve Young, the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, is the great-grandson of Mormon “prophet” Brigham Young. No one says anything about Young’s Mormonism. Dale Murphy was a devout Mormon who played with Atlanta Braves and Phillies in the 1980′s and no one had a problem with Murphy’s Mormonism. How about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who has criticized the United States for being afraid of Muslims? Husain Abdullah is a safety for the Minnesota Vikings and he is known for his devotion to Islam to the point that he will not take water when he is fasting despite playing football. Abdullah also is a regular speaker to inner-city teenagers about Islam. The media ignores Abdullah. The list could go on and on.
What if Tebow were a devout atheist (I know devout about what?)? Or a Hindu? Anything but an evangelical. What if Tebow were always saying, “Praise be to Allah the merciful” instead of “Praise Jesus Christ”?
Now frankly, I am always a bit worried about Christians elevating people to superstar status. Too often they have come crashing down. In 1 Timothy 3:6 Paul warned against appointing new converts to places of leadership lest they become like the devil and be full of pride and fall. Jesus said that the greatest among us shall be the servant among us (Matthew 20:20-28). Sadly, the Western Church often takes people who are new converts or young in the faith and places them as the spokesmen for the faith only latter to watch as the person gives in to sin, falls under pride, or simply brings shame to the name of Jesus through their words or actions. We must be careful.
Years ago Bob Dylan made a “conversion” from Judaism to Christianity. I remember reading this for the first time in Keith Green’s biography, No Compromise. Keith Green even reached out to Dylan and included him on one of his songs playing harmonica, I Pledge My Head. Yet sadly Dylan turned away. Dylan returned to Judaism after studying under a Jewish sect teacher in 1982. What is sad about this story is that the Vineyard had been quick to rush Dylan out front. He even recorded a gospel album which featured the hit single, “You Gotta Serve Somebody” which Dylan now says was about large companies and not about God. The Vineyard reasoned that Dylan would be an example to the world of God’s trophies of grace so they pushed to have Dylan out front speaking for Christ. In 1983 Dylan released an album entitled, “Infidels” and the Vineyard was done with Dylan.
We must be careful to exalt Jesus alone. Not Tim Tebow. Not Deion Sanders. Not anyone but Jesus! The Church rises and falls on the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-20) and not the works or testimonies of men and women. Jesus must be exalted. We would do well to read 2 Corinthians 4 and take to heart the words of the great Apostle, Paul of Tarsus. If anyone could have been a religious superstar it would have been Paul (Philippians 3:4-8) yet his passion was not to glorify himself but to exalt Jesus. That should be our goal as well as the Church. We should desire to make Jesus great and ourselves nothing. As John the Baptist said in John 3:30, “He must increase, I must decrease.”
Let us pray that Tebow glorifies God but let us also pray that the Church makes Jesus alone the one that we look to as our perfect example (1 Peter 2:21-22). Let us seek not to lift high an athlete or a pastor or anyone other than the one who alone is worthy to be praised, the Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 5:12-13).