Sacred Space: Tim Tebow Is My Brother

Tim Tebow is making everyone uncomfortable. He makes sports analysts uncomfortable because he is running the football 22 times a game, something that has not been done by a quarterback since 1950. He is completing half of his passes at best. He seems locked on a single receiver when he drops back into the pocket to throw, and his mechanics are terrible. Yet, the Broncos are 5–1 since he took over, and the fans seem to adore him despite his unorthodox style.

Oh, did I mention that he keeps praying on the football field and constantly talking about Jesus? That is what is really driving everyone nuts. Kurt Warner, the old NFL poster-boy Christian, thinks Tebow should tone it down a notch. Jake Plummer basically says, “Hey, we get it. You love Jesus. Give us a break with it already.” And Tebow? He just smiles and says, “I can’t help talking about Jesus. He’s my Savior. I love Him.”

It came as no surprise to me, then, that Tebow’s name came up at church during Sunday school. What was my opinion on the matter? Is Tebow being persecuted? Should he tone it down? Aren’t Plummer and Warner basically saying the same thing? My thoughts were a bit confused at the time, but here is what I think now after a little reflection.

I don’t think it should bother us that Tebow is irking both the godly and the godless with his displays of public piety. Could it be that he is praying after touchdowns because he is like the Pharisee who enjoyed praying in public? Perhaps. But couldn’t it also be the case that Tebow really does think about Jesus so much that he couldn’t care less who is watching him, like David dancing before the ark? That could be the reason he does it, couldn’t it?

I started contemplating the matter more closely. If he does his public displays for attention, then Tebow has his reward. No sweat, really. Christians have done far more publicly embarrassing things than pray like hypocrites. But if it is the latter, and I really hope that it is, imagine a guy whose first impulse is to celebrate his every success with Jesus Christ. What if his first thought is not for his stats, his next contract, or for the millions of people watching, but to his brother in the flesh, his Savior who bore away his sins, his best friend and confidant, Jesus Christ? And if that is really the case, do I want to be the guy who says, “Dude, could you tone down your thankfulness a notch and just play football? You’re making me uncomfortable with your Ned Flanders act.”

Uh, no. I’m not going to be that guy. (Things didn’t turn out so well for David’s wife who despised his exuberance.) Instead, I am going to give Tebow the benefit of the doubt, as I should every other brother and sister. I’m going to pray for him to hold up under the scrutiny, and I will pray for him to be able to act with poise and dignity for Christ’s sake underneath the intense spotlight that the NFL brings.

And I am going to pull for the Denver Broncos because of him. I can’t help it. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Broncos anyway.

About Brad Williams

Brad is the pastor of a Baptist church in a small town in Alabama. Brad has a lovely wife, two children, two dogs, a cat, a turtle, and five bee hives. Besides the incredible fact that he managed to persuade his wife to marry him, he is proud that he served six years in the Army National Guard, managed to graduate college with an English Lit. degree, graduate seminary, and finish the original Bard's Tale as a youngster by making maps on graph paper.

  • Carol

    I agree, let’s not judge his motives, that’s between him and God. In any case, people are talking about God and Jesus so hopefully that will lead to some good discussions =D

    For my part, it is somewhat irksome but that’s just me not being a publicly demonstrative person. Maybe I feel like I should be doing that too? To show that I too love Jesus and thank and praise Him for everything? But again – that’s my issue, not Tebow’s. I have to deal with my own insecurity, get rid of it and be genuinely happy to see a brother in Christ glorify God. And to do as you do and pray that he would stand up under the NFL scrutiny.

    I don’t think he’s persecuted. That’s probably my biggest beef with Christians in the Western countries who think we are being persecuted because some people find us annoying or disagree with us. That is NOT persecution. At worst, it’s opposition, at best, it’s disagreement. But we are still very much free to practice and demonstrate our faith in the ways we see fit. A church in Kentucky just voted to ban an interracial couple from being members of their church or to sing as worship leaders at their church for goodness sakes, because they believed such a ban would encourage unity in the body of Christ (….what??!) That’s repulsive to me but they had the freedom to do that so no, Christians in this country and other Western countries are not persecuted.

    Persecution is when it is illegal to read our bibles in public or go to church openly or meet openly at our homes. Persecution is living with the risk of being gunned down when I go to church. Persecution is risking being arrested for confessing Christ. Persecution is living in a country where God is not allowed to be believed in at all.

  • http://www.alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    Carol,

    I agree with you, and I do find Tebow’s public piety to be a challenge to me. I’m not saying that anyone has to mimic him, but we ought to at least examine whether or not it is our personality or fear of man that keeps us from being bolder for Christ.

    Your comment brought up a question to my mind. If the NFL banned “public acts of piety” like sideline prayer because it is a distraction, do you think that would be persecution?

  • Carol

    You’re right and I often wonder why I don’t just get on with it and witness boldly for Christ when the opportunity presents itself. Answer (for me, anyways) – fear. Pure and simple. Fear of being rejected or laughed at.

    I think if the NFL officially banned public acts of piety – then yes, I would consider that persecution. Because now a powerful organisation is exerting its power over players & coaches and other personnel to dictate or prohibit formally, certain actions. On a scale of 1 to 10 compared to say being a Christian in communist China, it’d probably be about a 2 or a 3 in terms of severity of persecution….but I think it’d be a very bad turn of events for religious freedom in this country and a precedent for something even more restrictive down the line.

  • http://brokentelegraph.com Ian

    Great post, Brad. I think I like your conclusion even more than mine. Feel free to give it a read: ‘Reconciling Tim Tebow’s Ability to Inspire With His Public Demonstrations of Faith.’ http://brokentelegraph.com/2011/12/03/reconciling-tim-tebows-ability-to-inspire-with-his-public-demonstrations-of-faith/

    thanks for getting me thinking about a subject I thought I had already thought through :)


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