Tuesday, November 22, 2011

the hated believer

Whether you watch football or not you may have heard of the current Denver Bronco’s quarterback Tim Tebow. A Florida Gator alum, he had an awesome college carrier, but few people expected him to have the skills to exceed in the NFL. Tebow has started the last five games for the Broncos and has led the team to a 4-1 mark. Anyone who knows anything about football knows that Tebow is certainly not the most accurate or gifted quarterback in the league, but regardless he has led his struggling team back to .500.

What is so interesting about Tebow is how polarizing he has become. He is not an attention getter with his play or antics, but his faith has become a talk point for every sports commentator or news outlet. While most of the fans in Denver seem to love their new quarterback, team coaches and managers (including John Elway) seem displeased. Many other players or commentators seems even to have a strong dislike for the young man, and even former Denver quarterback Jake Plummer said he wishes he would shut up.

The heightened discussion around Tebow is due to his faith. Tebow is a self-confessing follower of Jesus Christ, and he does not seem to be afraid to share it. This has made many people upset and uneasy. Tebow seems to be loved or hated not based on his unorthodox way of winning, but because of his strong beliefs.

There are many Christians who get upset over the strong words against Tebow and his faith. But as a follower of Jesus we cannot be surprised by such attitudes. Jesus promises us many things, and one of those promises is that if we follow him people will hate us. Jesus says the world hated him, and the world will hate his followers.

I for one know and expect people to look at many funny and say things behind my back, and possibly worse because of my faith. The Bible says when this happens we ought to rejoice because the prophets (and Jesus) were treated the same way.

I do not know Tebow personally. But when I hear people speak negatively about him because of his faith, I pray that he is given strength, courage, and wisdom to live his life as an example, this is what is important. We cannot pray that we will be treated fairly or respectfully for our faith, Jesus already promised that won’t happen. What is important is how we live our faith in the midst of strife, and nothing else. Our pray should be for faithfulness and mercy. Although I must shamefully admit I do hope Tebow wins every single game!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

freedom with purpose

What is freedom without discipline? This question is a very important one that we must ask ourselves. As a nation that prides itself on freedom such as speech, bearing arms, and others, we have freely exercised our rights without wondering if there are any consequences to undisciplined freedoms.

We have lifted up “freedom” as the utmost virtue that needs to be protected. Freedom is good, but is it the most valuable national characteristic we have? Cannot freedom without responsibility lead to chaos? If we exercise our right to bear arms with no restraint does that make our society a better one? And if we practice free speech without listening to others does that make us a superior civilization?

Can you imagine a child boldly claiming his or her right to free speech, whenever, and whatever it may be? Would a good parent allow their children to speak anything at anytime? Does not a good parent teach restraint, discipline, and discernment in utilizing a great freedom?

Certainly good parents teach their children when to use their freedoms appropriately. If this is true, then we are a nation without parents. We practice our freedoms without any discernment or concern for health and wellbeing for ourselves or others. We spend over 30 hours a week on television because we have the freedom to do so. We drink our weekends, and sometime our weekdays away because we have freedom. We send our children to computers to be raised by the internet because we are free to raise our children in any way we choose, and we sue every time someone has hurt our feelings because we are free. We are unrestrained children without discipline, raised to be spoiled and unproductive.

Freedom is good, Christ Jesus came to set us free (John 8:22), however, we do not realize that freedom always belongs to someone. We may be free, but the exercise of our freedom has a possessor. If we give our freedom to ourselves, we make ourselves open to do whatever we feel like doing for our own benefit. If we give our freedom to our family and friends, than we choose actions that bring joy and assistance to our small community. If we give our freedom to our country, than we make our choices freely in ways that improve, grow, and defend our country. Our freedom must have a possessor, a purpose; otherwise freedom becomes dangerous and undesirable.

We are told that because Christ died for us, and set us free, the exercise of our freedom belongs to God. What does this look like? It means we freely crucify all harmful desires (Galatians 5:24). We become free to choose to serve Christ. This is what true freedom looks like. We abandon everything that leads away from Christ because we are free to choose so. True freedom has a purpose, a possessor, a life giving quality that can only be met through the creator of freedom itself, Jesus the Savior. We must choose to freely serve the Redeemer Son of God, any other freedom is only a lie. Other freedoms lead only to addictions, violence, and death. Choosing the cross is the only true freedom we have.