I am not a football fan in any way, yet even those of us who don’t watch football can’t help but hear about Tim Tebow. From everything I hear he seems like the real deal, a genuinely nice Christian young man. Of course, what most of us “know” about him is only hearsay, but this post from a well-known Christian man who does know him backs up that perception.
But a public professing Christian can cause strange reactions in other Christians who observe him. A friend on Twitter shared the link to Can We Please Stop Being Weird About Tim Tebow? and made some excellent points. One of those weird responses is Tebowing, striking his characteristic pose — some students who were suspended for doing so were not being persecuted for their faith, as some thought: they were clogging up busy halls.
Another overreaction is that some Christians get very defensive and almost cultish of their
idol object of fandom. One of my sons expressed a difference of opinion on Facebook recently about one of Tim’s actions, and my, you would have thought he blasphemed God Himself by the response he got. Derision, sarcasm, scorn, being called a fool — and that by a church leader in our former church, who apparently conveniently forgot what the Bible says about that. I thought it very odd that some of these people would treat someone they know like that in defense of someone they don’t know, and all over a difference of opinion that that one is not alone in.
As Christians, we should be able to handle differences of opinions with more grace than that. Another interesting article that came up this week is How to Disagree Online Without Being a Total Jerk. The author makes some great points about remembering that the Christian brother we’re disagreeing with (online or off) is a brother, someone created in the image of God, part of the body of Christ, someone for whose soul we should care for more than the argument we’re in.
When many Christians get into any kind of disagreement, especially online, all thoughts of Galatians 6:1 (Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.) and II Timothy 2: 24-26 (And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.) fly completely out of mind. It’s almost a feeding frenzy. Whether the other person is mistaken, misinformed, wayward, or downright wrong, belligerence, condescension, and put-downs are going to drive that person away from the truth and the people who profess to proclaim it rather than to it and them. I think sometimes we’re more concerned about defending our “right” views and putting down anyone who edges a toe across the line than meekly discussing differences of opinion and helping others see the light if they are truly in the wrong. And some differences of opinion need to be left there, as simply differences, while we “agree to disagree.”
But back to Tebow. Tebow Time: 10 Thoughts and a Cloud of Dust is an excellent post sharing many things to admire about Tebow and many reasons to be concerned about “Tebow-mania.” Personally, I want to give Tebow the benefit of the doubt. I think he’s a good guy who wants to glorify and honor God. Everyone may not agree on all his methods of doing that, and that’s fine. He can’t really help the “mania” that has arisen about him. But while he is in the public eye we should pray for him, for wisdom for him in maintaining his testimony before the eyes of a watching world, and for protection from the Enemy who does not want God glorified and who would seek to trip His representatives up. We can rejoice that the phenomenon around him might cause some to think about God and pray that they’d find the truth about Him and come to know Him personally, not just as Someone who helps win football games but as Someone who saves from sin and becomes a Friend and Shepherd for life. And we should carefully guard our own testimonies while we talk about Tebow (and anyone else), especially with those who might disagree here and there with particular things he does. We can cheer him on, but we need to be careful not to exalt him above measure. In our conversations around him, instead of exalting him, if he’s the man I think he is, he would want us to exalt God and use those conversations that arise about him to be a stepping-stone to conversation about the God he serves.