Tim Tebow Bashing.

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Tebow defeating the Sooners

I’ll admit it – I was a Tim Tebow “hater.”  But not the way today’s football establishment is doing it.  As a lifelong Oklahoma Sooners fan, my “hatred” (consider that “fan” derives from “fanatic”!) for Tim Tebow is rooted in his destroying our national title hopes in the 2008 football season.  The BSC Championship Game on January 8, 2009 pitted the No. 1 ranked Sooners against Tebow’s No. 2 ranked Florida Gators.  Tebow’s Gators ended up on top, 24-14, riding the shoulders of their passionate quarterback to victory.

With partisan blinded vision, those of us in Sooner Nation found it quite easy to see only bad in Tebow.  His fiery rants turned us off.  His Gator munching motion sickened us.  His media overexposure nauseated us.  Then, he graduated, entered the NFL draft, and the Tebow circus merely switched gears.  We Sooners continued hating on him as his undeserved attention seemed to land him a first round draft choice of which even the world’s pro football experts said he was undeserving.

Fast-forward to today, however.  Two things have changed: one, Tebow’s media exposure has soared to such staggering proportions that he has crossed over into pop culture as few pro athletes have done.  Online dictionaries now officially include the term Tebowing as a verb.  Tebowing, according to urbandictionary.com, is “to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.” The second change has to do with my feelings toward Tebow, relative to that of the NFL establishment…or perhaps I should say, as a direct result of the establishment’s treatment of him.

Tebow praying - "Tebowing" in the modern vernacular

Let me be clear: my feelings have changed, because the media’s response to the young Denver Broncos quarterback has crossed over into real life, away from the silly allegiance to college teams which allows one to “hate” opposing players.  Many in the media don’t understand Tim Tebow – particularly his religion – so they use him as a weekly punching bag.  His crossover into pop culture now sees him as the butt of jokes on late night television entertainment shows.

What, I ask, has this young man done to deserve the constant beating he receives from stodgy NFL analysts and media savvy commentators looking for laughs?  Has he been accused of raping young women, such as vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger?  Has he been brought up on murder charges, as was fearsome Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker, Ray Lewis?  Does he stand at the head of a major drug operation, as the recently arrested Sam Hurd of the Chicago Bears is accused of?  Did he shoot himself in the leg with an illegally carried handgun at a nightclub, as did former Giants’ player, Plaxico Burress?  Did he spend time behind bars for extreme animal cruelty, such as Michael Vick?  Did he beat up his girlfriend, as countless players have done?

No, Tim Tebow’s only crime is that he is a Christian, period.  He is far from a great quarterback.  He’s still a rookie and only time will tell whether success awaits.  But the NFL is loaded with former and current quarterbacks who stink it up on Sundays.  No one’s crucifying them.  No one’s bashing them.  Tim is being raked over the national coals because he is a Christian, and natural men and women do not know what to do with him.

Saturday Night Live skit, making a mockery of Tebow and Jesus Christ

Paul the apostle – in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 – gave the clear reason why non-believers reject the things of God, and, by extrapolation, why Tebow is suffering such unwarranted abuse.  Natural people, Paul says, approach the gospel with their rational minds and find it to be completely foolish – moronic is the actual Greek word.  It doesn’t fit the way they esteem life.  It seems ridiculous and unbelievable, so they reject it as nonsense.  Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 1:18, “The word of the cross is foolish to those who are perishing.” “Those who are perishing” represents the category of people who are going to hell.

Visit the ancient ruins of the Circus Maximus in Rome and you will see a carving in stone of a cross.  Hanging on the cross is a man with the head of a jackass.  Beneath the cross, a man is bowing down in worship.  The inscription says that he is bowing to his God.  It is a laughing slur against Christians.  “Who would bow down to a jackass?” they were saying.  Christianity is that stupid, that moronic, to man’s rational mind.

Non-Christians are perishing, but, ironically, human pride keeps them from seeing it.  They look at believers and conclude – accurately – that most of us are the world’s nobodies.  Paul said in verse 26, “Consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.” Most Christians are not movers and shakers in society; most are not influencers of business, government, academia, or culture.

He continued in verse 27, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not.” Paul’s words (foolish, weak, low and despised, things that are not) represent the lowest slurs available to the Greek culture of his day.  People in essence saw Christians as non-people, unborn, totally insignificant, as if they didn’t even exist; they were that irrelevant.

The son of missionaries, Tebow preaches regularly

Obviously, this opened believers to ridicule and abuse.  One constant among mankind is that he tends to mistreat those he misunderstands or those he feels superior to.  This explains the media’s treatment of Tim Tebow.  They have no solid footing from which to ridicule him in the context of his football performance.  Again, many players perform poorly and never catch the sports pontificators’ attention.  Yet, they continue bashing Tebow, because they do not understand his life.

Tebow lives his Christianity as all genuine believers should: openly, bearing spiritual fruit.  His end zone prayers – Tebowing – merely represent the tip of the iceberg of his deep faith in Christ.  In short, he is an authentic Christian, and the natural, watching world finds him to be moronic and stupid.  Consequently, they ridicule him and use him as fodder for humor.

From a football perspective, something special and unforeseen is happening at the moment.  The Denver Broncos barely blasted from the starting gate this season and already languished in defeat, headed nowhere.  They benched their starting quarterback and reluctantly gave Tebow a chance – “What did they have to lose, right?”  Remarkably, Tebow began leading the Broncos to victory – they are now 7-2 with Tebow at the helm, and they’re all of a sudden relevant, with a chance to make the playoffs.  His quarterback play is unorthodox, often unimpressive, and even his coach and general manager refuse to openly give him their full support.  But still he wins.

Tebow’s story portrays in living color Paul’s lesson from 1 Corinthians 1 and 2.  His life, in a microcosm, reveals why some people believe the gospel and others don’t.  He represents the gospel, which those who are perishing find foolish.  He represents the true wisdom of God, rather than man’s limited understanding, which is doomed to destruction.  Paul wrote in verse 6 of chapter 2, “We…impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.” And then in verse 8: “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

And here is the ultimate answer for why America’s elite media is mistreating Tim Tebow: their ancient counterparts – “the rulers of this age” – failed, in their human wisdom, to see that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God and only Savior of men’s souls, so they crucified Him.  They are therefore, mistreating his modern follower, Tebow.  They misunderstand him; his life and values appear foolish, so they attack him.

Tim Tebow, now 7-2 as the Broncos' starting quarterback

Christian, don’t court the world’s approval.  Don’t expect man in his natural wisdom to understand you or even esteem you.  Don’t be surprised when you are misunderstood and even mistreated.  Never forget that the elite rulers of Jesus’ day crucified Him.  Stop working to attract the world to your churches, as if God relies on American consumerism to lure people to His gospel.  Preach Christ and His cross strongly and unapologetically, without fear that man will find it offensive or confusing.  Natural man needs to be offended – by the Holy Spirit of God, who persuades him of his deep sin and destiny with hell, should he reject Christ as the only means of getting right with God.

Paul told the Corinthian church members, who were in love with the world and rejecting his ministry: “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified… My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:2-5).

Church, which do we want: man’s wisdom or God’s power?  Which does the lost world need?  Let’s defend our own – such as Tim Tebow – by praying for them, and let’s love the lost world the only way possible: preaching “Christ and him crucified.”

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