Tim Tebow is polarizing in the sports world. It seems almost everyone has an opinion about the college football superstar turned Denver Broncos quarterback. For some, it’s an issue of how his public faith meshes with sports. For others, it’s the disbelief that he’s a starting NFL quarterback who has a hard time throwing the ball. Regardless, as a Christian (and die-hard Broncos fan) I can’t help but root for him. Here’s why: Tebow gives a great example of how Christians should react when people are being critical of them for their faith.
The issue seems to be in the forefront of talk radio and newspaper sports pages again thanks to some fans who’ve put the name Jesus on the back of their replica Tebow jerseys. While the Broncos don’t specifically sell the jerseys in their stadium store, some have been critical of the jerseys saying they’ve crossed the line of idolatry. Comparing Tebow to Jesus in such a tangible way, even though media outlets around the country have been doing so in headlines for weeks, makes some folks uneasy.
The issue of idolatry is a real one and probably a discussion for another day. What impresses me most is how Tebow reacts to questions about his faith. When asked about the Jesus jersey, Tebow told the Denver Post:
“I don't know what to think about that because I don't know where people's hearts are. It's important to not judge without knowing their hearts. If their heart is to honor the Lord, then it's a good thing. Only God can judge because only God knows what's truly in a person's heart."
And that type of reply isn’t uncommon for Tebow. He’s said he believes the Bible calls him to be open about living his faith, but not forcing it on others. When his open faith, including taking a knee to pray, became a craze known as “Tebowing,” he again used it as an opportunity to share his beliefs. He told the Denver Post:
"It's not my job to see peoples' reasons behind it, but I know (of a kid) with cancer that tweeted me, 'Tebowing while I'm chemoing' — how cool is that? That's worth it right now. If that gives him any encouragement or puts a smile on his face, or gives him encouragement to pray, that's completely awesome. It is serious, for me. At least it's being talked about, and that's a cool thing. If I can help be an example of that, then I look at that as a blessing."
How many of us would act with the same grace if we were under scrutiny or being mocked for our faith? How quickly would we be jumping to judge people for their motives? How often would we go on the defensive instead of using it as a chance to share God’s story?
Tim Tebow is a good guy and a committed Christian. While I think his faith shouldn’t be the fodder of sports talk radio, I do admire the way he reacts to it. And for that reason alone, I root for his success in the NFL. I’m always for someone who’s not judging others, but living out their faith by example.