Everybody is doing it. Well, maybe not everybody. But a lot of people are copying the prayerful pose of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow who can be seen on bended knee thanking God many times on the football field. Some copy him to mock him; some are showing their support as fans; and some are as sincere as he is. But this simple act coupled with his uncompromising faith in Jesus Christ makes him probably the most polarizing athlete in the news today. Some love him; some hate him.
From his comments in a January 16, 2012, article entitled Would Jesus Condemn Tim Tebow To Hell Not the NFL?, I would gather sportswriter Robert Paul Reyes falls in the latter group. Reyes believes Tim’s public petitions are the equivalent of the ostentatious piety condemned by Christ in Matthew the sixth chapter. Jesus does indeed condemn giving to the poor, fasting and praying to “be seen by men.” Reyes wrote “Jesus Christ blasted the Pharisees for making a Hollywood production out of praying” and “that Jesus would have the same harsh condemnation for Tim Tebow and his sanctimonious antics on the NFL gridiron.”
Let’s take a closer look at what this sportswriter-turned-biblical-scholar-and-commentator had to say. First, Jesus is not addressing Pharisees. They are not even mentioned anywhere in the whole sixth chapter of Matthew. He is addressing a broader set of do-badders called hypocrites. Of course, the oft criticized Pharisees are called hypocrites by Christ later in this gospel and can be accurately considered a subset of the hypocrites mentioned here.
Next, Jesus is not condemning public prayer in this passage as Reyes would have you believe. Had Reyes removed his biased bifocals and taken the time to read all of what the gospels have to say, he would have discovered Jesus praying publicly himself on many occasions. A notable example would be His prayer at the tomb of Lazarus. A prayer that was answered, as I am sure Lazarus would agree, with remarkable effect. Jesus was condemning public prayer that has the sole purpose of bringing attention to the one praying.
Of course, Reyes claims this is what Tebow is doing. Reyes opines “is Tebow famous for praying for world peace or a cure for cancer? No, he is notorious for praying (tebowing) when he scores a touchdown.” I guess Reyes has missed those times when at the end of a game the Broncos lost, Tebow meets with believing players from both sides of the field for a time of prayer. It would appear Tebow prays whether he wins or loses. That must be maddening for Reyes.
Here is another point so many seem to miss. Tim is not the one shining the spotlight on his actions. He gives every appearance as being raised in a Christian home where Christian beliefs were practiced. His actions in public are merely a reflection of deeply held convictions he has practiced all his life which are now seen in the limelight of the professional sports arena. I am not aware of a single time that Tim Tebow has called attention to himself, or his praying. But having succeeded in a role coveted by so many, he has not shirked from maintaining his testimony of Christ. Unlike the hypocrites, Tebow is scrutinized for who he is and where he is at, not because he said look at me.
In a previous article I said I am not a fan of Time Tebow quarterback for the Denver Broncos, because I believe God has a higher calling and purpose for him. But I am a fan of Tim Tebow the Christian. I am a fan of this young man who is a moral role model to those who would emulate him. I am a fan of this young man who uses his income to support ministries to those less fortunate and not lavish it on himself. I am a fan of this young man who amidst the bitterest criticism of his actions, serenely maintains his faith without a word of condemnation for his accusers. I am a fan of this champion for Christ.
Reyes asks, “Tebow, how can you escape the damnation of hell if you don’t stop acting like a selfish religious moron?” I have some advice for Reyes. Read the whole Bible and not just those parts you think you understand. Don’t worry where Tebow will spend eternity and worry about where you will spend eternity. And instead of criticizing Tebow, why don’t you pursue world peace or a cure for cancer?