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!

1 comment:

  1. I think a lot of this Tebow stuff is really more about the status of established evangelical Christianity in America. The way people love or hate Tebow is very symbolic of the evangelical church in America. America as a culture and government is separating itself from evangelical Christianity. Evangelical Christians in America are aware on some level that Christianity is losing its place of privilege and control in American society. Christians in America are increasingly a minority. Many evangelical American Christians have viewed America as a Christian nation. As Christianity is removed from a place of privilege in society, many American Christians feel that this is a form of persecution. Public leaders and personalities who openly and boldly proclaim their evangelical brand of faith in Jesus are mythologized as heroes (even if they are less than brilliant examples of what it means to follow Jesus), and give the evangelical Christian minority a hope that they are again rising to prominence or at least still have a place within the public sphere of American life. (Notice that when a non-evangelical type Christian like Rob Bell becomes famous in the public eye he also is treated as a threat to Christianity). There seems to be a polarizing, defensive, survivor mentality among evangelicals today. There seems to be this feeling of everyone is against us, and if you’re not one of us (as determined by hot topic issues like abortion, homosexuality, “inerrant” word of God, evolution, etc…) then you’re against us. It feels like evangelical Americans are grabbing for the power they once had in society. This grabbing for power and place in society often comes off as trying to “Lord it over” others, which leaves a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths (including Jesus?). Perhaps we root for publically evangelical Christian athletes to win (and beat other athletes who may also be Christians), because it gives us a sense that our team (Christianity) is winning. Wouldn’t it be a more powerful display of faith to praise God in the midst of a loss? Maybe we should be hoping that publically evangelical Christian athletes will lose, so they can subvert this sense of God is with the people on top, by claiming God in the midst of defeat. What if separation of Christianity from the government and what it means to be an American was a good thing? What if it allowed Christianity to provide an alternative to the culture around us? What if it helped Christians live more faithfully and separate themselves from the traps of American culture? What if it helped eliminate some of the misconceptions about what it means to be a real Christian by setting the Church free from nominal American ways of being a Christian? And what if the church in America listened to some of the criticism against the church, and discovered that maybe they have not done a good job of being the Church? Perhaps American evangelicals need to rediscover how to be humble and take the role of a servant, like Christ, and learn to be gracious in defeat?