The Tebow in All of Us
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I really like football. I just don't have a lot of time to watch it. But you know, I watched a whole game that wasn't even my team! It was the Denver Broncos when they won that astonishing victory over the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers in a wild-card playoff game. But I was watching more than a football game; I was watching Tim Tebow and the drama that unfolds every time he takes the field. That game was no exception.
Now, Tim Tebow went from being America's top college football player to a much-critiqued rookie quarterback for the Broncos. When he replaced Denver's starter after a string of Denver losses, he led his team to seven wins, including six in a row. Several of those wins were "come from behind," last-second (well, they said) "miracle" victories, and then three consecutive losses in which Tebow performed pretty poorly.
And then that playoff game where the Broncos were basically written off as having no chance. Somebody forgot to tell Tim Tebow. He exploded for 316 yards passing, 50 yards on the ground; he led his team to a stunning overtime victory.
But the drama swirls around this unconventionally impressive quarterback has less to do with football than with faith. He's often in the news for his unashamed praise of Jesus Christ; especially his trademark response to good things that happen on the field. He kneels on one knee, his head bowed, a hand to his forehead. And after completing a game-winning 80-plus yard pass on the first play of that playoff game, he (well, you guessed it) took a knee.
His God-praising, bent-knee posture has now become part of our national vocabulary, "Tebowing." There's even a website dedicated to showing pictures of people "tebowing" all over the world; an expression of respect from most and mockery from others.
In a sports world known for scandalous headlines about its heroes, it seems no one quite knows what to do with a strong, consistent Jesus-guy like Tim Tebow. He's still a virgin. He's known for constantly encouraging and building up his teammates. He serves the poor and the lost on missions trips. He genuinely cares about others. And yet, he's a fierce competitor, a physical powerhouse and a passionate player.
But since I've never been, or never will be, mistaken for an NFL hunk, is there any example here I should be following? You bet there is. Because this indomitable quarterback is, in many ways, a living, breathing model of what it means to be "Christ's ambassador" no matter what field we play on, and that's our word for today from the Word of God, 2 Corinthians 5:20 - "We are Christ's ambassadors."
First, Tim Tebow understands the responsibility of divine positioning. We work where we work, we live where we live, we go to school where we go to school, we recreate where we recreate for a life-saving purpose, to, as the Bible says, "shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life" (Philippians 2:15-16).
This "star" in the football universe says, "I'm going to take the platform that football has given me and try to give back with it and make a difference." Every person who belongs to Jesus has been given a "platform" to point people to their Jesus; your job, your medical or financial battles, your successes, your losses, your community activities, your children's activities. Your situation is your assignment; your divinely conceived position to show the difference that Jesus makes.
And Tim Tebow also models for us what it means to have a radar for open doors. His eyes are wide open for circumstances that open a door to talk about his Jesus. He sees many in his football successes. Paul had prayed, "That God may open a door (or a natural opportunity) for our message...that I may proclaim it clearly" (Colossians 4:3-4).
And then, our gridiron brother also shows us the power of show and tell. His life backs it up; he's known for his encouragement. He's known for his purity. This is a Jesus-follower who understands that you win the right to be heard by showing the difference Jesus makes, by being the best employee, employer, son or daughter, mom or dad, a friend or neighbor that you can possibly be.
I guess what Tim Tebow's brand of faith shows more than anything is the magnet of having an identity that is anchored to Jesus Christ. No one can look at Tim Tebow, even those who despise his faith, and not think of Jesus.
How about me? How about you?