Its hard to be famous.
Not that I have a lot of personal experience to draw from – this blog hasn’t exactly exploded nationally. Yet.
But just think about it. If you are famous, people recognize you and stop you everywhere. Everyone you meet has ideas in his or her head about who you are, and many of those expectations are going to be impossible for you to meet.
“I thought you’d be taller.”
“You know, you really aren’t that funny.”
“What’s that smell? Is that you?”
Being a famous professing Christian adds a whole new dimension to the picture. Now there are a whole new set of expectations, all based on different ideas of what it means to be a Christian, starting with the impossible expectation that the person is perfect.
Complicating matters, many people who profess to be Christian have dramatic failings where it becomes clear that their desire to follow God’s guidance for their life is or for a time was less than their top priority. For whatever reason, Christians and Christian groups have too often tried to latch on to individuals, only to be left with a black eye when that person’s dirty laundry is aired out. And very often that dirty laundry is brought out, because the simple act of professing faith in Christ is enough to draw the ire of many. Being a Christian is enough for many to hate you.
Take, for example, Tim Tebow. Tebow is unquestionably one of the greatest college football players of all time. In 2007 Tebow became the only sophomore to ever win the Heisman Trophy and he nearly won it again in 2008. He won two national championships and two SEC championships with the Florida Gators. He is the only player in NCAA history to rush and pass for 20 touchdowns in a season. Overall he holds 5 different NCAA records, 14 SEC records and 28 University of Florida records. At the NFL Draft, Denver traded 3 picks to move up to draft Tebow.
Despite all of this, he is one of the most controversial athletes in the NFL. His style of play is nontraditional, and many experts have predicted that he will fail as an NFL quarterback. Much of this is pretty typical of professional football analysis, but there is also widespread agreement that the analysis and criticism of Tebow has at times gone a bit over the top. He is constantly under the microscope, by fans and critics alike. Everything from his arm motion to his body language and personality has been nitpicked. He has become a lightning rod, and everyone seems to have their own opinion of him.
Part of the attention that has drawn people to Tim Tebow comes from his very vocal profession of faith. Tebow grew up as a missionary kid to parents serving in the Philippines. He was home schooled for a time after his family moved back to Florida. A favorite story shared by commentators leading to the NFL Draft, Tebow spent time during summer breaks doing missions work in the Philippines, including assisting in performing circumcisions (how’d you like to do that on your next vacation!).
Tebow has boldly stated his belief and faith in Jesus Christ and has appeared to live a life consistent with the teachings of scripture. This has all drawn the attention of many. I bring Tebow up now because all of this attention has had a fairly dramatic effect on many, as was recently pointed out in a Fox Sports article written by Jen Floyd Engel entitled “Why the heck do we hate Tim Tebow?” You should read it yourself, but here are a couple of excerpts I found interesting:
He is too nice, and thereby we want him to trip up so we can feel better. We want him to be revealed as a hypocrite, and when that fails to happen, we settle for gleefully celebrating his failures on the football field. And why? Because he dares to say thanks?
I find it especially telling that Tebow rarely lectures and does not fight back…Tebow is just a guy with the good sense to say thanks. Instead of taking his cue, we mock his faith. And that says more about us, none of it good.
There is a great deal more that is worth taking note of so really, go read it. But when I read these things, a couple of verses come to mind.
Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
-Matthew 5:16 (ESV)
In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
-1 Peter 3:15-16
Reading the article, I would venture to say that Engel is not an evangelical Christian. However, she has taken note of how Tebow has lived, listened to what he has said, and seen how people’s reaction to his faith has been critical and unfair. She is seeing God’s truth and glory through Tebow’s life, something that each and everyone one of us is called to. It even brings her back to a coworker who simply prayed before his lunch at work – that simple act of thankfulness made an impact on Engel and her coworkers. How many little opportunities to share little pieces of our faith with others do we miss because we aren’t looking for them!So often, it is the little things that make an impact. In college, the NCAA adopted the “Tebow Rule,” banning messages written on the little black stickers that players wear under their eyes to cut glare from the sun, because Tebow would write Bible references on his. He didn’t fight it or speak out against anything, but his actions pointed others to the Bible. A new popular spinoff of the “planking” craze (which I find hilarious!) is “Tebowing,” mentioned in Engel’s article and popularized in part by NBA superstar Dwight Howard (pictured here). Following a touchdown, Tebow kneels in a quick prayer of thanks to God, and others have taken to kneel in various strange and awkward places in what could be seen either as a joke or as an act mocking Tebow or prayer. Either way, Tebow’s act of thankfulness has again brought attention and ultimately glory to God. Praise God!
Ask yourself, what are you doing to bring attention and glory to God?