There’s a controversy swirling around Denver Broncos’ quarterback, Tim Tebow, who has been taking the opportunity to thank Jesus Christ during football games. It should be noted that Tebow is doing this without a lot of fanfare or dancing or shouting and is not the first person to thank God or Christ from a sidelines or an awards dais.
In the sports realm of victory laps Tim Tebow should be sliding right under the radar.
However, fans, sportscasters and fellow football players are becoming increasingly polarized around Tebow offering their opinions freely about whether or not a public display of faith is acceptable, or even appropriate, all the time. Everyone keeps saying this controversy is about Tebow and his actions.
But lately, more is actually revealed about everyone else.
Take for example, Lions linebacker, Stephen Tulloch who mocked Tebow after sacking him in a recent game by getting down on one knee in an impromptu in-your-face joke about what he judged as Tebow’s overt faith. The entire Lions organization has been trying to say it was all in fun ever since.
It’s that old definition of fun that says as long as the barb is delivered with a sneer and a few people laugh at someone else’s expense with you, it’s to be tolerated. What’s even more interesting though, is not that Tulloch tried to elevate himself by stepping all over Tebow’s faith but that Tebow has not returned the surly favor. Not even a little.
Tebow has also not said that his faith means God is on his side or is spending more time hanging out at football games. He’s responded to the multitude of questions about what this all means by saying that he’s expressing his thanks and then heading out to do his best. The outcomes are out of his hands and all he can do is make sure he’s ready when he shows up to play the game.
In a culture that has gotten inundated for generations with heroes that took most or all of the credit, crowing about how they are better, faster, smarter, richer, it must really throw some people for a loop to hear someone praise God and say, it’s not all about me. Apparently, it even angers some of them.
What really seems to have unnerved so many people is how often Tebow expresses his faith, love and gratitude mixed with how humbly he lives his life.
Legendary retired quarterback, Kurt Warner is the latest to say in the media that Tebow ought to tone it down a bit. Warner said he is a Christian as well and in his early days as a quarterback felt the same compulsion to thank Christ or God and felt the hailstorm of criticism that followed. He toned it back a bit and let his actions lead, rather than his words. Warner came to see that as enough.
But Warner is giving the rest of us way too much credit. If it were possible for me to glean how to pick up the same tools of life that he found just by observation I’d have figured out a lot more by now.
Sometimes an action isn’t worth a handful of words because there’s a lot of space between witnessing an individual do the right thing and also hearing them tell you that all that they have, all that they are comes from something bigger than themselves.
There are going to continue to be plenty of people hoping to find out Tebow is less than he appears and expose that it’s impossible to be a person of integrity. They’re willing to keep mocking, jeering and chatting on-air till they see it come to pass.
But this crowd may have underestimated the rest of us, regardless of our particular faith, who are exhausted by the economy, the political primaries, the Kardashians and the general backbiting that’s become a part of our culture.
We’re rooting for the good guy because he’s saying something we want to believe. That it’s okay to set an example that’s full of integrity, takes a lot of accountability and is a challenge to live up to every day. Maybe what Tebow has figured out is that it is a very tall order to live up to but if you can drop the chest-beating and hand over the credit to God, you may find a sweeter life, instead. More adventures to follow. Tweet me @MarthaRandolph about what you’re thinking.