January 2012

Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. If you have been following the NFL over the past few months, this name has come up more than any other name. And it has even spilled over into pop culture and the news as well. If you don’t know who Tebow is, let me explain. He is a quarterback from the University of Florida who was drafted by the Denver Broncos this year. He was a back-up until the team started playing very poorly and then he was given the starting job. Since he took over the team, the Broncos have gone 6-2 and are possibly going to be in the playoffs. This is all because Tim Tebow has been leading the team to victories. But why is there such huge media fascination with him? Players in all professional sports leagues do great things every year, why Tim Tebow? Well, the short answer is: he’s a Christian, and he is not ashamed to show you.

Of course there are many Christians in the NFL, and that alone does not separate Tim Tebow. But there hasn’t really been a player who sings praise songs as he warms up. There hasn’t really been a player who talks about his faith and his Savior at press conferences. There hasn’t really been a player who bows his knee to pray during the game, and not just on good plays! That is not a knock against other Christians in the NFL, this is simply the reason that Tim Tebow stands out.

But with all the hype surrounding Tim Tebow, one thing consistently stands out. Not the question of: does Jesus like the Denver Broncos? Not the issue of: what role does religion play in sports? The thing that stands out is: that is just who he is. You hear other players and coaches from the team and they all say the same thing: that is just who Tim Tebow is. He is not putting on an act in front of cameras. He is not trying to garnish media attention. He is a genuine and sincere person. The guy that sings praise songs during warm ups before a game, is the same guy singing praise songs on an off day. It’s just who he is.

There is an incredibly valuable lesson in the Tim Tebow frenzy. That is the lesson of being real, being genuine, and being sincere. People can tell if you are simply putting on the ‘Christian’ act. Or, if you act one way on Sunday, and a completely different way the rest of the week. If we are two different people around youth group and around school groups, then we are not being sincere. The apostle Paul told his young protégé Timothy that the goal of pastoral teaching was, “love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith” (1 Tim 1:5). The pastor is not trying to teach his people how to act like a Christian, the pastor is trying to teach his people how to be a Christian.

Now, there is the reality that not everyone likes Tim Tebow. In fact, sports columnists, other players, and even people not associated with sports, have slammed Tim Tebow for all his ‘religious stuff.’ People have said to “tone it down,” or “leave it at home,” or “we’re sick of it.” This response is nothing new. Jesus said, “if the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18; see also Matt 10:22, Mark 13:13, Luke 6:22). If you stand up for Jesus Christ, and you act like a Christian all day every day, and you give God the glory for everything, people may not respect you. In fact, they may hate you. But Jesus encourages us by letting us know, “I know how you feel.”

At the end of the day, if we are true believers in Jesus Christ, we need to act like it day in and day out. We can’t have split personalities. Church person on Sunday and at youth group; then worldly person every other day. Be genuine and sincere in your faith. And secondly, be prepared for when you are being sincere, that some people won’t like it. Remember, Jesus said that would happen. Jesus knows how we feel. Just ask yourself this question: what matters more to me, the approval of my friends or the approval of my Savior?

Pastor Mark Scialabba