Tim Tebow’s good news

JACK DEMPSEY AP Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) talks to the media after being named the starting quarterback, Tuesday, … Continued

JACK DEMPSEY

AP

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) talks to the media after being named the starting quarterback, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, in Englewood, Colo., (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

No, God is not a Denver Broncos fan – certainly not in the sense of the people who paint their faces half orange and half blue and cheer on the home team at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. So Sunday’s exciting-as-it-was-unlikely playoff win over the defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers was not, in any way that would suggest the creator of the universe picks sides in a football game, an “act of divine intervention.”

But that doesn’t mean His name wasn’t glorified in the Broncos’ 29-23 victory led by quarterback Tim Tebow, whose unconventional playing style and uncompromising expressions of his Christian faith have made him one of the NFL’s top stories this season.

I’ve been to plenty of football games – some of my dearest friends in the world are the families of former Detroit Lion and Bronco Luther Elliss and former Bronco and Atlanta Falcon Jason Elam – but I’ve never experienced anything like I did Sunday. Yes, the action on the field was thrilling – but it is the discussions in the stands I’ll remember, which will have real impact long after the details of yet another “Tebow Time” comeback have faded.


View Photo Gallery: The quarterback for the Denver Broncos has become a polarizing figure in football, in part because of his outward displays of Christian faith.

As an evangelical Christian, like Tebow, I am called to share my faith with others – that’s why we call it the “good news.” Sometimes, that can be a daunting responsibility – the Bible tells us that the way of Jesus can be offensive to those who don’t know Him. But there was an openness to hearing the Gospel all around me and my friends Sunday, as complete strangers asked us, in the midst of the game’s tensest moments, if we “pray like Tebow does” when circumstances turn challenging. (This is as good a place as any to point out that Tebow is hardly the only, or even the most outspoken, follower of Christ in pro football. Devout Christians suit up every weekend for every team in the NFL.)

Tim Tebow himself, as humble as he is, would likely be the first person to reject what I’m about to say, but as a Christian football fan living in Colorado, I can’t help but think that the “platform” God has given him – for which he always expresses thanks in interviews – makes him a little like John the Baptist. In the Bible, John the Baptist comes to prepare the people of Judea for Jesus’ arrival, as “a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.” (John 1:7-8). In other words, Tim Tebow isn’t the Messiah (it’s actually quite sacrilegious to even joke that he is), but he takes every opportunity presented him to point people to the Messiah.

Anecdotes of how Tebow has done this could cover a football field. A caller to a Denver talk show several weeks back said he was at the Broncos-Bears game on Dec. 11, and when it appeared there was no way the team could win he turned to his friend and said, “If we pull this out, I’m going to church.” The team did pull it out, in overtime, and he told the radio host was going to keep his end of the bargain and attend a worship service.

After the win over the Steelers, the social media world began lighting up with the fact that Tebow had thrown for 316 yards – as in John 3:16. A friend posted this fact on his Facebook page, not to prove that God roots for Denver, but in the hope that some of his friends who did not know Jesus might look the verse up and learn more about God’s goodness and plan for salvation. Sure enough, one of his friends did just that. And John 3:16, like it did when Tebow scribbled it into his eyeblack during his days at the University of Florida, became one of the Internet’s top search terms again.

Now it’s on to New England for the Broncos, where they’ll take on the Patriots in another game the “experts” are giving them little chance of winning. That means another week of Tebow talk, some from him, mostly about him, with additional opportunities for every day believers to plant seeds of the Gospel and no shortage of opinions about whether he’s right or wrong to be “mixing religion with football.”

Interestingly, that discussion will happen as Tebow leads his team in pursuit of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the NFL’s highest honor, named for the legendary Green Bay Packers coach who said this in a May 1964 speech to the First Friday Club of Los Angeles:

“When we place our dependence in God, we are unencumbered, and we have no worry. In fact, we may even be reckless, insofar as our part in the production is concerned. This confidence, this sureness of action, is both contagious and an aid to the perfect action.

“The rest is in the hands of God — and this is the same God, gentlemen, who has won all of His battles up to now.”

And those are the eternal victories Tim Tebow understands matter more than anything that happens on a football field.


Esther Fleece is assistant to the president for millennial relations at Focus on the Family. Follow her on Twitter @EstherFleece.


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About

Esther Fleece Esther Fleece has an impressive track record of connecting influential individuals and organizations to their mutual benefit. Christianity Today noted Fleece's skills and success as a "relationship broker" in an article highlighting the Top 50 Women Shaping the Church and Culture, and she was honored by CNN as one of the "Five Women to Watch" in 2012. An in-demand millennial expert and international speaker, Fleece has been identified as one of the "New Faces of Evangelicalism" by USA Today.
  • al-Ameda

    Esther, God is not a fan of the people on this planet, let alone a football player.

    At the very least God appears to be somewhat disinterested and detached. 6 million Jews annihilated? Nowhere to be found. 30 million Russians murdered by Stalin? Tied up, couldn’t help. Millions of Cambodians slaughtered by Pol Pot? Family commitments got in the way I suppose.

  • Political_Stratgst

    This is an idiotic piece written by a hedonistic moron who believes that only the name “Jesus” can be prayed to. We can all connect with the spirit through prayer and achieve amazing results – period!!! Had nothing to do with the fictious character that was supposedly born in Bethlehem in the year 4 BC.

  • haveaheart

    “Tim Tebow himself, as humble as he is . . . ”

    I don’t see how someone who displays such blatant religiosity in public can possibly be called “humble.”

    If he were humble, he’d stand quietly, perhaps close his eyes, and have his dialogue with his god. The posturing on the field does nothing but draw attention to Tebow; he can’t be unaware of this.

    He is really becoming a pill.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    The tragic thing about Tebow for me is that despite his faculty for courageous leadership on a football team, I’ll never be able to respect him because like all sky-worshipers he would have the imbecilic gall to look a child, or a convict, or a dying person in the eye and threaten them with an eternity of torture if they did not surrender their individuality and subscribe to his dogma, just so he can continue to reassure himself as he goes to sleep every night that he’s the best student in the class. At the end of the day, the man is a fascist, and it is simply unethical for anyone to support him wholeheartedly.

  • ThomasBaum

    Sure does seem that many who do not believe in God, seem to know just how one should relate to this God that they do not believe in.

  • tfseem

    ” . . . no shortage of opinions about whether he’s right or wrong to be “mixing religion with football.” Indeed, but based on Tim Tebow’s actions off the field, it seems, right or wrong, he mixes everything with religion. I root for Tim Tebow not because he’s Christian, though, but because I find it hilarious (I literally choked on my wine a couple of times during the game Sunday) that he absolutely refuses to listen to anyone except himself as far as what he can and cannot do. That kind of attitude will make a winner out of anyone, whether evangelical Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, shaman, or “other”.

  • LoveNeverFails

    Tim Tebow likes to sign GB²
    Is that GOD BLESS & GODDESS BLESS?
    He profits off promoting GOD and promoting the pagan GODDESS NIKE!
    GOD hates all other gods and goddesses… and is NOT happy with Tim Tebow
    for honoring the name of the pagan goddess NIKE!!!

  • XVIIHailSkins

    Perhaps you meant to say that those who believe in God seem to know just how one should think, eat, have sex, vote, raise their children, treat women, marry, and most importantly, which parts of their genetalia should be cut off at birth.

  • chosch

    I’m glad to see Tebow get his passing game going as Denver heads to New England.
    As for Tim’s faith, its his personal faith and he does have a platform. God be with him.

  • alert4jsw

    Christians like to go around asking “WWJD” — What Would Jesus Do? Well, the Bible is pretty clear about what he told us to do in this regard, and perhaps if Tim Tebow followed that advice there wouldn’t be so much controversy. I refer to Matthew 6:6 — the directive to “pray in our closets, not in public as the hypocrites do.”

    I’m certainly not accusing Tebow of being a hypocrite. I happen to think he is genuine in his faith. But even Jesus seemed to understand how annoying and obnoxious those who “grandstand” about their religion can be, and that his followers weren’t going to win many friends with that kind of behavior.

  • jilek952

    The problem with that is….He isn’t “Grandstanding” it, we are…….

    and your just generalizing Christians

  • jilek952

    Don’t comment about God until you know what he stands for and why he does.

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