I remember clearly the first time I heard the name “Tebow.” Some of our family were watching a football game and I asked who was playing. Someone answered, “The University of Florida and some other team.” Neither were from our area. Curious, I asked why the interest in that game. Our son-in-law Terry Redmon answered, “I like Tim Tebow the quarterback. He is good and he is a very dedicated Christian and a great example.” Thinking of our six grandsons and five granddaughters, I was grateful to hear Terry’s reasoning, but not at all surprised. It was easy to understand his admiration for a talented athlete who was unashamed of his faith. He made it clear that he could declare boldly, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) Those words were true when Paul spoke them, and just as true with Tim Tebow in the 21st century. The salvation freely offered by God through Christ is available to those who believe. Obviously Tebow believes, and as a result of his witness, many others have and will trust Christ.
Do you find it amazing that there is so much interest and attention focused on this young man, and such diversity of opinion? Some like him, some despise him. There is love, hate, admiration, criticism, and even mockery. His very existence often reveals the true heart and attitude of people.
Dr. Linda Mintle points out in her blog “10 Reasons for Tim Tebow Hate” that public arrests of college and pro athletes averaged one every other day in 2010. Tebow doesn’t have an arrest record, yet there is an “I HATE TIM TEBOW” Facebook page.
Chap Clark, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, a prominent evangelical school based in California, said Tebow’s unorthodox route to success, after so many predicted he would fail as a quarterback, has set him and his faith apart, even from the many other athletes who talk about their religious principles. “Tim has this ferocity as a competitor, but it’s still a game to him. He is consistently saying that football is not the center of life,” Clark says. “His great strength is that even people who don’t agree with his faith at all play their best around him.”
Tebow recently told the Associated Press that he knows his openness about his religion can be divisive but he feels compelled to share his story of salvation regardless of the sensitivity of the subject, and he relayed one of his favorite quotes: “I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future.” Tebow said, “The thing about my faith: it’s not just something that happens when you’re at church or happens when you’re praying or reading the Scripture. It’s part of who you are, as a person, as a player, in your life and everything.”
Tebow was the first college sophomore to win the Heisman trophy, college football’s most prestigious award. The Florida Gators won the national championship when Tebow was a junior. Tebow continued to excel throughout his college career. Some commentators, however, said he would not make it as a pro in the NFL. A few speculated that he might not be drafted, and if he was, he would be drafted low. They were wrong! They said he could not start – wrong! That he could not effectively quarterback a team – wrong! Could not be a winner – wrong! In the mile-high city of Denver he has the Broncos and their fans living two miles high. The buzz has become a roar.
This weekend he faces the three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady – two players with totally different styles in the same sport. This has the media pundits predicting one of the largest television audiences ever for a non-championship contest. While the world watches, will they witness Tebow help pull off another amazing victory? If Denver should win, will it be because of divine intervention? If they lose, what will Tebow do?
I predict either way he will point to God. If he loses, he will still give praise to God and to the Patriots, Brady, their coaches, and everyone involved. Whether he wins or loses the game, he will consistently encourage his team. Should they lose, he will perhaps accept personal responsibility for the loss, but will follow by declaring, “We will get better. We will never, never give up!”
Raised by missionary parents, Tebow wore Bible verses on his eye-black at Florida and still preaches to villagers in the Philippines and inspires inmates during jailhouse talks. And he’s sharing his religious beliefs with his teammates as enthusiastically as he yells the cadence at the line of scrimmage on Sundays. Coach John Fox asked Tebow to give the weekly address to the team on the eve of a game at San Diego last month, and nobody was surprised when Tebow shared Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” something Tebow deemed appropriate as offense, defense and special teams feed off one another .
Recently an article on FOXNews stated:
Tim Tebow is not a religious symbol. He’s a shrine to the power of a strong, committed, passionate two-parent upbringing. Tebow’s birth — a product of his mother’s faith and refusal to listen to doctors advising her to abort — might very well have been a religious miracle. Tebow’s performance on the football field is testament to Bob and Pam Tebow and what they instilled in their youngest child…
What should be dawning on us — especially those of us who greeted Tebow’s Broncos career with skepticism — is that, thanks to a rock-solid, two-parent upbringing, Tebow is quite different from Young and Vick in terms of mental and emotional makeup. NFL quarterback is a 24/7-365-day job that Vick and Young were unprepared for coming out of college. NFL quarterback is a position best played by young men who were raised by strong fathers. Quarterback is the ultimate leadership position. You have to be taught how to lead. You have to be taught how to prepare.
Vick and Young, athletic freaks on par with Tebow, do not have Tebow’s nuclear-family foundation. Vick and Young entered the league emotionally immature and with a set of values inconsistent with the values that lead to consistent, strong QB play. You can wing it in college and get by on sheer athleticism and talent. You can’t do that at the quarterback position in the NFL. (This writer clearly recognizes and again illustrates the importance of strong marriages and families and the example in our homes, which is missing in so many.)
Rick Sams, a pastor in Alliance, Ohio, and friend of LIFE Outreach, wrote in his local newspaper, “Before Tim was born doctors begged his mother, Pam, to abort him. She had been given drugs to counter her amoebic dysentery not knowing she was pregnant, drugs known to almost universally cause irreversible damage to fetuses. She refused, trusting God for the outcome. All the while Tim’s father prayed, not only for a healthy son, but that God would make him a preacher. God answered those prayers. But the ‘Mile-High Messiah’ won’t be seen wearing robes, only pads and a jersey with his congregation numbering in the millions.”
Most Christians don’t believe that God determines the outcome of sporting events by releasing miraculous power in behalf of either team (even though fans sometimes wonder!) Most of the time, the best team wins and the best competitor finishes first. God leaves it in our hearts and hands to compete and perform, to give our best. Surely He must watch sometimes, don’t you think? We do know for certain He is interested in the lives of all who participate. And if He ever should decide to pick a team, woe to the opponent! Don’t expect it though this week when the Broncos play the Patriots. Be assured, players on both teams and fans on both sides of the field will be cheering and some will even be praying.
Tim Tebow loves Jesus and cares about people. He carries the heart of his missionary parents for the people of the Philippines, where he was born, and he is building a hospital in that country. He consistently assists people here at home and faithfully shares his testimony and witness whenever the occasion arises. He is, in my opinion, a wonderful role model. May I ask what’s wrong with that when we have so many terrible examples being lifted up? Many athletes, entertainers, and leaders have failed, so I am so glad our children and grandchildren admire someone like Tim Tebow. He “walks the talk.” They appreciate his athletic ability and success, but not nearly as much as his consistent Christian life. I personally wish I had always had the same steadfast, consistent walk that this highly-visible competitor has exhibited. On occasions, I did not and the fact that I did not have dedicated missionary-minded parents is no excuse for any inconsistency on my part or anyone else’s because Tebow’s Jesus offers everyone an opportunity to experience abundant life.
This is why every one of us needs the perfect example of the One who has captured Tim Tebow’s heart and the One he has chosen to follow: Jesus Christ. He alone can lift us beyond our weaknesses and hold us in the loving, forgiving arms we all need. Tim Tebow is lifting Jesus up so high that I am convinced He will draw others unto Himself. I thank God for his consistent witness. No matter what happens when the Broncos play the Patriots, I know who will win regardless of the outcome because Tim Tebow will still kneel down, look up, stand up, and point unashamedly to the gospel of Jesus Christ even if the NFL won’t allow him to print Scripture verses under his eyes during the games. There is no way the witness of this young man can be silenced. May God grant all of us the courage and consistency we see on public display through Tim Tebow because the testimony he gives is written on the hearts of all observers and brings glory to God.