Can The World Deal With Tebow’s Zeal?

Posted on: 12/12/11 9:22 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s not often that we hear positive words about Christians on national TV. But Tim Tebow is making a more than a few people scratch their heads and wonder, “Is this whole Christianity thing actually working for this guy?”

Those of us watching the Sunday night football broadcast on NBC this weekend might have heard Bob Costas’ halftime report about Tebow. While many in this nation are mocking Tebow’s faith, or laughing, dropping to one knee and doing the Tebow… others are taking note of his character and undeniable belief.

I couldn’t say it better than Bob Costas did:

“Still, there is no doubt that Tebow and his team benefit from his honest belief. How? Frank Bruni put it well in today’s New York Times. Whatever Tebow may lack in classic NFL quarterbacking traits, he possesses other qualities in abundance. And in his case, those qualities — confidence, equanimity, optimism — and a presence that can’t be explained, but can certainly be felt. The whole Tebow persona derives from how he sees the world, and his place in it. Those qualities, no matter how one comes by them, are an asset, perhaps especially in sports.

Good for Tebow, and those who share his beliefs. And those who don’t can still acknowledge, and appreciate, that who Tim Tebow is, is not only genuine, but for the moment at least, it makes him and the Broncos, one of the most fascinating, and in whatever sense you interpret it, uplifting stories in sports.”

Click here to read Costas entire “halftime essay.”

After hearing Costas give that report yesterday, my daughter Alyssa smiled at me with a surprised look and said, “That is so cool!”

I looked at her equally surprised. “Pinch me. I think I’m dreaming.”

How often have you seen the world take notice of a Christian because of his character?

Will they still notice if he doesn’t get that W next week against the Patriots?

Bronco fans might have flinched when Costas said, “Whatever Tebow may lack in classic NFL quarterbacking traits,” but facts are facts. Tebow can’t throw like Tom Brady. But as Costa so astutely pointed out, what Tebow lacks in quarterbacking, he more than makes up for in character. Kudos to Costas for fairly pointing out that Tebow’s internal qualities are an asset.

Imagine that… the world noticing someone’s character over performance.

New York Times Frank Bruni, mentioned by Costas above, made candid observations about Tebow’s religion as well:

Which brings us back to religion. With Tebow there’s no getting away from it. He uses the microphones thrust in front of him to mention his personal savior, Jesus Christ, and has said that heaven is reserved for devout Christians. He genuflects so publicly and frequently that to drop to one knee in the precise way he does has been given its own word, along with its own Web site, where you can see photographs of people Tebowing inside St. Peter’s, in front of the Taj Mahal, on sand, on ice and even underwater.

That zeal doesn’t go over so well with many football enthusiasts, me included. Tebow performs a sort of self-righteous bait-and-switch — you come for scrimmages and he subjects you to scriptures — and the displeasure with that is also writ colorfully on the Web, in Tebow-ridiculing Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, one devoted entirely to snapshots through time of Tebow in tears. An emotional man, he has traveled a weepy path to this point.

But the intensity of the derision strikes me as unwarranted, in that it outdoes anything directed at, say, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, accused repeatedly of sexual assault, or other players actually convicted of burglary, gun possession and other crimes. In a league full of blithe felons, Tebow and his oppressive piety don’t seem like such horrendous affronts at all.

Besides which, to get lost in the nature of his Christianity is to miss the ecumenical, secular epiphanies in his — and the Broncos’ — extraordinary season. Their sudden turnaround isn’t just thrilling. It illustrates the limits of logic and the shortcomings of the most quickly made measurements and widely cited metrics.

Bruni’s entire article was worth reading (with a dictionary by your side).

As a parent of three teenagers and a 20-year youth ministry veteran, I have to say, it’s nice to see a positive role model emerging in a world full of lousy heroes. Having just written a summary of 2011’s number one songs and artists, I have a bitter taste in my mouth. Britney? Gaga? Kanye West? Katy Perry? These are the number ones?

Young people today need a hero. They need authentic. With Tebow, they get someone who is genuine on and off the field, a true light in a dark world. That is something worth talking about with our kids.

I pray—and you should too—that Tebow can stay true to his faith and not stumble… because all of America is waiting for him to do so.

7 Replies to “Can The World Deal With Tebow’s Zeal?”

  1. The only concern that I have (and it shadows under the positives) with Tebows’ overtly public professions is that some people may start to view Christianity as a sort of mysticism. “If I want to be a better football player, I need to kneel and pray like Tebow does.” Athletes (and fans) are notorious for being overtly superstitious (play-off beards, anyone?), and I worry that will transcend across Tebows faith in Christ.

    That, and if the Broncos would have lost yesterday, it would have guaranteed a playoff spot for the Steelers…. 🙂

    1. Dan… good thoughts, and Tebow is actually with you on that. Read Costas’ entire halftime essay linked above. He says:

      “Tebow, whose sincere faith cannot be questioned, and should be respected, also has the good sense, and good grace, to make it clear he does not believe God takes a hand in the outcome of games. Most of us are good with that. Otherwise, how to explain what happens when there are equal numbers of believers on either side. Or why so many of those same believers came up empty facing Sandy Koufax. Or hit the deck against Muhammad Ali. Or why the almighty wouldn’t have better things to do.”

  2. I am thrilled with TT being a good positive role model and for him to be a believer who is not ashamed to express his sincere faith is almost to good to be true. There are others in sports who wear the name of Christ well too (Aaron Rogers and Colt McCoy who currently both lead their NFL teams as quarterbacks) but are a bit more reserved in displaying their faith. May God continue to bless them all as well as others in their victories but maybe more importantly in their losses…I hate to say it but I am looking forward to Tim’s response and the sports worlds response when Tebow does not lead his team to a last minute win. I trust he will shine even brighter for his Lord and Savior!

  3. Well lets not forget that non-believers have defeated believers on many many many occasions as well. I don’t think Tebow is helping the Bronco’s win games because God is on his side. No, he’s winning because he’s a decent enough quarterback. I think it must irk Christians to see bad men( i call them humans) get taken down a notch and ridiculed, only to come back and dominate in what ever profession they belong too. The good guys must win, the bad guys must lose. Only that’s not how it works.

    As for his prothletising, listen he can do that as much as he likes. If you believe in something that much then it would be illogical not to. He does it to a point where he annoys a lot of people(me included), but it’s his right. Still, just as it’s his right to prothletise his beliefts, it’s everyone else to tell him how they feel about him prothletising his beliefs.

  4. It’s great for us all that we have a genuine guy, who’s faith is first in his life. (Really bummed he beat the Bears though, or maybe we beat ourselves, that is another conversation!) When America gets what it wants, when he does stumble, the big problem here is what those secular folks don’t quiet get, Christians are not perfect, we make mistakes (sin) and that is WHY we need a SAVIOR in Jesus. We have seen this played out so many times and true Christians understand this. I just pray America will finally understand too.

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