September 29, 2009
For nearly four years, Tim Tebow has presented a dilemma in my home. He is an all-American quarterback, perhaps one of the two or three best players ever to play the college game. He is, as we say in my rural Georgia hometown, "tougher than pig iron," often battering his body and willing his troops to victory like Aragorn at Helms Deep. Opposing players see Tebow in the huddle and shudder. He plays every down as if it were his last. I really like that.
But, herein lies our dilemma: he plays for the Florida Gators, the national champions, and my family has for decades bled the red and black of the Georgia Bulldogs, my alma mater's entry in the toughest sports conference in America. For us, the operative equation goes something like this: Dawgs plus Gators equals mortal enemies. But here is my recent problem: Tim Tebow is my brother in Christ. He shares the Gospel, undertakes missions work, and seeks to live a Godward life with the same tenacity that he displays when it is third-and-goa
l on the opponent's one-yard line. Tebow wears eye black emblazoned with John 3:16 and he plays football the way a Christian should: smash mouth, grit-and-gunpowder, all out all the time, to the glory of God. It is exceedingly difficult to root against such a brother. Tebow's full story is available here.
Last season, after Florida suffered its lone defeat of the year, Tebow publicly shouldered the blame for the loss. In a memorable post-game press conference, he pledged to apply every ounce of his strength toward winning the remaining games. Florida won 10 straight (steamrolling our beloved Bulldogs along the way), its final victory coming in the national championship game against Oklahoma. Florida's streak began with Tebow exhibiting a concise summary of biblical manhood - tenacious humility. And Tebow's tenacious humility became the tracks upon which the streak rode. Last weekend, Tebow suffered a concussion against Kentucky, but I suspect he'll be back very soon. He's not the game-missing kind.
Recently, my oldest son asked me if it would be okay if he adopted Tim Tebow as a hero so long as he maintained his primary allegiance to a certain team from Athens, Ga. (where, incidentally, head coach Mark Richt, a vibrant follower of Christ, is also a wonderful example of biblical manhood). I didn't have to think very long. "Absolutely," I told him, wondering if I had really just signed off on such a request. This dilemma has stretched me; it has made me pray for the grace to live in accord with the difficult imperatives of Romans 12, which is always a good thing. In the same manner as Paul admonished believers to imitate him insofar as he imitated Christ, I want my boys to be like Tebow because he is a very clear and winsome example of what biblical manhood should look like in a young man.
One does not have to delve very deep to find a vibrant and orthodox faith living within college football's brightest star. This past summer, Tebow was asked about his commitment to stay pure until marriage. Could it be true? "Yes," he told a cynical media corps, without blinking. Tebow believes the Bible teaches that sex is the exclusive privilege of a man and woman within the bonds of marriage. He said so without blinking, later admitting that he does not date. And so authentic was his answer and so authentic has been his walk before a watching public, the usually snarky fifth estate received the answer without the customary ridicule. "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word." (Ps. 119:9)
Tebow is unashamed of Christ and all the implications that come from following Him. He is willing to endure mockery and ridicule for Christ because, as he recently told ESPN in an interview, living for Christ is life and death. And football? Well, he told ESPN, it is just a game and it is by no means ultimate; Christ and the Gospel are.
This is what biblical manhood does. Biblical manhood carries out assigned tasks with diligent effort to the glory of God. It walks unashamedly with Christ and risks alienating the city of man on issues such as sexual purity because it lives with a greater city in view. It lovingly, humbly, and with biblical tenacity, leads and protects those placed under its care, manfully shouldering the blame and repenting when it fails. Biblical manhood enjoys the good gifts God has given while worshiping the Giver as the supreme treasure. And it pushes fathers to teach their sons that love for the body of Christ trumps affections for their favorite football team.
Go Dawgs, but God bless you brother Tim. Thank you for giving my sports-crazed son a snapshot of Christ and a reminder of the supremacy of the Gospel.
You can find this article here.