“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9
Ever since Tim Tebow won the Heisman trophy a couple of years ago, and has become one of the most outstanding quarterbacks in college football, he’s drawn the attention of the media. Everyone likes to watch a budding star, and with a football in his hand, Tebow has developed into the kind of athlete that many in the sports media world think will make a smooth transition from Saturday to Sunday football.
But Tim Tebow has attracted a lot of attention for another reason. He’s a professing Christian, and he’s not ashamed to let people see that it is the guiding force in his life. When he responded to a rather personal question about his personal life, he wasn’t afraid to declare that he is a virgin, and is saving himself for marriage. The secular media had a really hard time with that, because in their mind, athletic superstardom is not compatible with Christian values. They see Tebow’s faith as a weakness and a hindrance, while he obviously sees it as a strength.
Football players put a strip of black eyepaint on their face, under their eyes, to keep the glare of stadium lights, or the sun, out of their eyes while they are playing. I don’t know whether Tebow came up with the idea, or borrowed it from other football players who do the same, but over the black paint, in white, he puts a scripture reference each week when he plays. I think that is a wonderful idea. Christians are not supposed to hide their faith under a basket, as the scripture says, and while a football player putting scripture references on his eyepaint is somewhat unusual, and probably not what the writer of Deuteronomy had in mind when he wrote the above referenced passage, it is certainly consistent with it.
Of course, any time Christians express their faith in public, especially in these kinds of circumstances, it draws criticism. There is absolutely nothing presumptuous or remotely arrogant about what Tebow is doing, at least when it comes to expressing his faith. As a Christian, those verses mean something to him, and in a very non-confrontational way, he is simply giving testimony to that. For some reason, that causes the secular media to bow up completely bent out of shape, along with some Christians. By contrast, they certainly don’t mind uncovering whatever dirt and immorality they can find, and celebrating it if the opportunity presents itself, and for some reason, that’s O.K. but this isn’t. Here’s a young man whose looks, personality and athletic skill have made him famous, who sets a high standard and a great example for those who might be younger than him, who look up to him, and who might be influenced because of what he has chosen to do. Something is wrong with a way of thinking that looks at that and is bothered by it because of the potential that young men, and women for that matter, might be positively influenced.
Personally, I do not see that Tim Tebow is aggressive, or “in your face” with his faith. He’s not imposing it, he’s simply demonstrating it in a way that he sees as being obedient to it. And that’s far more admirable, from where I sit, than winning the Heisman trophy.
I’m not given to cheering for the Gators as a team, or pulling for Florida athletics. But I wish Tim Tebow the very best, and a long career in the NFL where he will have continued opportunities to do the right thing and set a good example.