It’s not often that we hear positive words about Christians on national TV. But Tim Tebow is making a more than a few people scratch their heads and wonder, “Is this whole Christianity thing actually working for this guy?”
Those of us watching the Sunday night football broadcast on NBC this weekend might have heard Bob Costas’ halftime report about Tebow. While many in this nation are mocking Tebow’s faith, or laughing, dropping to one knee and doing the Tebow… others are taking note of his character and undeniable belief.
I couldn’t say it better than Bob Costas did:
“Still, there is no doubt that Tebow and his team benefit from his honest belief. How? Frank Bruni put it well in today’s New York Times. Whatever Tebow may lack in classic NFL quarterbacking traits, he possesses other qualities in abundance. And in his case, those qualities — confidence, equanimity, optimism — and a presence that can’t be explained, but can certainly be felt. The whole Tebow persona derives from how he sees the world, and his place in it. Those qualities, no matter how one comes by them, are an asset, perhaps especially in sports.
Good for Tebow, and those who share his beliefs. And those who don’t can still acknowledge, and appreciate, that who Tim Tebow is, is not only genuine, but for the moment at least, it makes him and the Broncos, one of the most fascinating, and in whatever sense you interpret it, uplifting stories in sports.”
After hearing Costas give that report yesterday, my daughter Alyssa smiled at me with a surprised look and said, “That is so cool!”
I looked at her equally surprised. “Pinch me. I think I’m dreaming.”
How often have you seen the world take notice of a Christian because of his character?
Will they still notice if he doesn’t get that W next week against the Patriots?
Bronco fans might have flinched when Costas said, “Whatever Tebow may lack in classic NFL quarterbacking traits,” but facts are facts. Tebow can’t throw like Tom Brady. But as Costa so astutely pointed out, what Tebow lacks in quarterbacking, he more than makes up for in character. Kudos to Costas for fairly pointing out that Tebow’s internal qualities are an asset.
Imagine that… the world noticing someone’s character over performance.
New York Times Frank Bruni, mentioned by Costas above, made candid observations about Tebow’s religion as well:
Which brings us back to religion. With Tebow there’s no getting away from it. He uses the microphones thrust in front of him to mention his personal savior, Jesus Christ, and has said that heaven is reserved for devout Christians. He genuflects so publicly and frequently that to drop to one knee in the precise way he does has been given its own word, along with its own Web site, where you can see photographs of people Tebowing inside St. Peter’s, in front of the Taj Mahal, on sand, on ice and even underwater.
That zeal doesn’t go over so well with many football enthusiasts, me included. Tebow performs a sort of self-righteous bait-and-switch — you come for scrimmages and he subjects you to scriptures — and the displeasure with that is also writ colorfully on the Web, in Tebow-ridiculing Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, one devoted entirely to snapshots through time of Tebow in tears. An emotional man, he has traveled a weepy path to this point.
But the intensity of the derision strikes me as unwarranted, in that it outdoes anything directed at, say, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, accused repeatedly of sexual assault, or other players actually convicted of burglary, gun possession and other crimes. In a league full of blithe felons, Tebow and his oppressive piety don’t seem like such horrendous affronts at all.
Besides which, to get lost in the nature of his Christianity is to miss the ecumenical, secular epiphanies in his — and the Broncos’ — extraordinary season. Their sudden turnaround isn’t just thrilling. It illustrates the limits of logic and the shortcomings of the most quickly made measurements and widely cited metrics.
Bruni’s entire article was worth reading (with a dictionary by your side).
As a parent of three teenagers and a 20-year youth ministry veteran, I have to say, it’s nice to see a positive role model emerging in a world full of lousy heroes. Having just written a summary of 2011’s number one songs and artists, I have a bitter taste in my mouth. Britney? Gaga? Kanye West? Katy Perry? These are the number ones?
Young people today need a hero. They need authentic. With Tebow, they get someone who is genuine on and off the field, a true light in a dark world. That is something worth talking about with our kids.
I pray—and you should too—that Tebow can stay true to his faith and not stumble… because all of America is waiting for him to do so.