In January of this year, Google search engines worked overtime as people searched for Philippians 4:13. The cause for this surge? Tim Tebow, quarterback for the Florida Gators, had written the Bible verse on the eye black underneath his eyes. He was playing in the BCS National Championship Game against Oklahoma.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
–Philippians 4:13 (ESV)
This past weekend the Google search engines again went into overdrive. Tim Tebow was returning to action after a concussion against LSU on national television. Again Tebow wrote a Bible verse on his eye black. This time it was 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
–1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
Tebow has won the biggest trophies for his athletic abilities (2 National Championships and 1 Heisman Trophy). He has received admiration for his off the field activities and character. Read my earlier article on this here. He visits prisons. He serves in mission settings in Asia. He proves his leadership and character both on and off the field.
So what’s the problem?
According to Tom Krattenmaker, a contributor for USA Today, there is a “shadow side” of athletes like Tim Tebow. Shadow side conjures images of something dark and sinister. What is this shadow side? It is that Tebow believes that Jesus is the only way to salvation and to God.
If one believes this about Jesus, then it is offensive to those who do not believe the same about Jesus. So Krattenmaker writes that athletes like Tebow are not good “Not if you’re Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, non-evangelical Protestant, agnostic or anything else outside the conservative evangelical camp.”
Tebow’s father, Bob Tebow leads a ministry that focuses on ministering to people of the Philippines. I heard Bob Tebow speak the day before the BCS National Championship game at First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Florida. But according to Krattenmaker, the Tebows espouse a “far-right theology.” It is far-right because it teaches that “Only those who assent to its version of Christianity will avoid eternal punishment.”
The author invokes a survey of Americans in which 65% believe that there are many roads that lead to salvation and to God. Since Tebow is not in the 65%, he is far-right. I think Tebow is okay with that designation. What is wrong is to ascribe a shadow side to somebody who believes what the Bible clearly teaches. Whether something is right is not determined by opinion polls, but by what God has revealed in Scripture.
This article in USA Today is another example of the intolerance of the tolerance crowd.
Christians should pray for men like Tebow. Men who proclaim the message of Jesus as the Light of the World. To Tim Tebow – this Oklahoma fan prays that God will continue to give you opportunity to declare the truth about Jesus.