You don’t have to be a Colorado sports fan to know about Tim Tebow.  If for some reason you don’t know about this outspoken Christian who took the Denver Broncos from local embarrassments to international sensations during the 2011-2012 NFL season, please, by all means, look at this link or you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about.

Now, Tim is an amazing player and an amazing person.  He’s big, he’s fast, he’s unconventional, and he plays hard from start to finish.  Like every player, he has his strengths and weaknesses, but there is no doubt that he is a fantastic football player (and if you compare the stats, he’s as good as former Bronco’s legendary quarterback, John Elway was at the same point in their careers).  Off the field, he’s respected by fans and critics alike for being a good guy, kind, generous, and completely genuine.  He’s very outspoken about his faith and never fails to try to point the spotlight others shine on him onto God first.  Tim Tebow is polarizing (though I get the impression this has more to do with people that dislike him than with Tim Tebow himself) but even those who dislike him can’t speak against his character.  That’s uncommon for a person.  Exponentially so for an athlete.

But, I was listening to the radio today and I heard something that really bothered me.  Football fans are keenly aware that one of the greatest quarterbacks (ever), Peyton Manning, is considering playing for the Denver Broncos, among other teams.  If Peyton Manning comes to Denver, Tim Tebow will lose his position as the starting quarterback (at the very least) or be traded away to another team.  Either way, he’ll probably lose some of his platform to share the Gospel that he has gained from being the starting quarterback.

That’s not what bothered me.

Many of Tim Tebow’s fans are like me… deeply committed followers of Jesus Christ that love Tim as much for his outspoken faith and genuine example as we do for his football playing.   We love the same Jesus he loves.  We read the same Bible he reads.  We try to live out the same convictions he tries to live out.  We love Jesus, we love Tim Tebow, and the thought of Peyton Manning ousting Tim Tebow makes us all at least a little uneasy, maybe more so.

But again, that’s not what bothered me.

What bothered me was this… one of the callers told the host about an altercation he had with a fellow employee that was a Christian and a Tim Tebow fan.  When this caller suggested that the Denver Broncos might be more likely to become Super Bowl contenders with Peyton Manning than with Tim Tebow (a fair argument, albeit short-sighted), he recalled that the Christian Tebow fan lost his temper and started insulting the caller.  The radio hosts mentioned that they had experienced some similar treatment by other Christian fans of Tim Tebow.  One host closed the segment by saying something to the effect of “Tim Tebow has the best character of any athlete I’ve ever met.  He lives out his faith.  Many of his fans who share his faith don’t seem to share his character.”

THAT bothered me.

What that caller and the radio hosts talked about are not isolated incidents.  I’ve seen posts online in different sports or news networks where self-proclaimed Christian fans of Tim Tebow act nothing like Tim, let alone like Christ.  The insults, the antagonizing remarks, the disrespect, and the retaliation I’ve read and heard is the opposite of how Tim Tebow or Jesus Christ act.

And critics of Tim Tebow use the horrid behavior of his fans to diminish the influence and power of Tim Tebow’s words and actions much the same way that skeptics have diminished the Gospel of Jesus Christ… by shining the light on our unChristlike behavior and attitudes towards others and towards them.  It seems that Tim Tebow and Jesus Christ have the biggest problem in common…


Now, you can debate, contend, argue, yell, and scream all you want that it isn’t fair to judge one man by his followers (or, fans…), but that’s EXACTLY what the world does.  And we are fools to think that we do anything other than a massive disservice to our faith and to our heroes when we claim to be followers of Christ or fans of Tim Tebow but act nothing like them.

But you know what?  God actually recognizes that this is exactly what happens… in fact, God even identifies the reverse effect it has on people and their attitude towards Jesus Christ when we act like we are supposed to around them.

1 Peter 2:12 (NLT) says this…

“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.”

My impression is that this is how Tim Tebow is trying to live his life.  He takes unfair criticism, extra scrutiny, a rumor mill grasping at straws, and the unsympathetic eyes of people just waiting for him to fail and wanting him to fail big… and how does he respond?  By debating their faulty impressions of him?  By debunking their inaccurate assessments of him?  By arguing incessantly on his Twitter account about rumors that aren’t true?  No!  In fact, he uses most of that static to create a clear channel where people can watch him act and hear him speak like Jesus would in the same situation.

You and I would do well to follow that example.  Not because he’s perfect, not because he’s the greatest Christ-follower that ever existed (he’d likely tell you that he’s not even close to that), not because of anything about Tim Tebow.

The simple reason is given to us in that verse… we are supposed to live and act and speak the right way so that those who accuse any of us (and they will accuse) will come to a point where they realize that all their criticism and accusation was for nothing and all they can do now is give God praise and honor and glory.

That should be our highest goal, whether we’re lifting our hands in praise to Jesus Christ at church or pumping our fists in excitement for Tim Tebow during the game.

At least that’s what any TRUE follow of Jesus Christ who also happens to be a fan of Tim Tebow should be doing.


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