Rooting for Tebow? 3 Problems with Celebrity Christianity

By Ed Clemente Photography (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I’m a Christian. I trusted in Jesus Christ to reconcile me to God when I was 8 years old. I don’t have a radical story, but I do have a miraculous story. I was spiritually dead in my rebellion against God and Jesus paid for that rebellion and gave me new life. My life now is one of gratitude for that truth mixed with portions, heaping portions at times, of selfishness and pride. I trust that Jesus not only saved me, but will change me. That is my hope and identity.

I also really like LSU sports. I grew up in the Baton Rouge area. I volunteered to usher in Tiger Stadium as a high school student. Even with all of the traffic and craziness of Saturday nights in Tiger Stadium, I still love to go to the games whenever possible. I will usually make space in my schedule to watch a game on TV and I do own a few LSU shirts. LSU sports is a recreation of mine and I do enjoy it quite a bit.

As such, I’m not a fan of the occasional football player named Tim Tebow. I don’t dislike him. I’m certainly glad that he’s a fellow follower of Christ. I’m glad that he hasn’t been ensnarled in any major controversies that would embarrass fellow Christians. But I really don’t care if he plays football or not. He didn’t play for LSU. He doesn’t play for the Saints. From a football standpoint, I don’t care about Tim Tebow.

I will assume that by this point I have enraged some Christians. “How can you not root for Tim Tebow?” The answer is as simple as it is important: We don’t need celebrity Christians. Not Tebow. Not Duggars. Not Robertsons. Not Dungy. I’m certainly not saying that I want these individuals to hide their faith. I am saying that they are not necessarily my heroes. In fact, I feel that there are a few dangers of which we should be aware when becoming a fan of any Christian. I’ll use Tebow in my example for each, though it applies to any celebrity Christian.

Problem 1: Rallying behind Tebow’s public faith doesn’t make your faith more public

Not every Christian is as outspoken in his/her faith as Tim Tebow is. Again, thank you, Tim, for your faithfulness in this area! But aligning yourself with Tebow’s faithfulness doesn’t make you faithful. Judas walked around with Jesus, but when crunch time came, Judas crumbled. His actions demonstrated his unbelief. If you admire Tebow’s boldness, then imitate Tim as he imitates Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1). Be inspired by Tim’s faithfulness (Heb. 11) and allow that reminder of faithfulness to drive your boldness in sharing the good news of Jesus.

Problem 2: Jesus doesn’t need celebrity endorsements

Our society places a high value on marketing and endorsement. But God doesn’t need endorsement. Tim Tebow is great because of God, not the other way around. I don’t believe that Tebow has insinuated in any way that God is great because of him and I’m glad that Tebow is vocal with his faith. But so many Christians seem more likely to bring a friend to hear Tebow speak at an event than to bring that friend to a Bible study or ordinary church service. One might say, “That’s not my fault, my friend wouldn’t come unless it’s a celebrity.” Are you sure? Have you asked? I’m glad Tebow speaks and I’m glad that people want to listen. But Christians, the gospel is worth hearing without any other names attached to it. The Word of God penetrates to the soul and spirit of man, regardless of the mouth from which it comes (Heb. 4:12). Tebow’s words don’t save people; God’s Word does.

Problem 3: Tebow is human

I’m not aware of any moral failings of Tim Tebow. For that I am thankful and encourage Tim to keep up the disciplines of integrity. But if I were to hear of a moral failing tomorrow, it wouldn’t bring any aspect of my world crashing down. Why? Because he’s human. He is saved (based on his testimony, not my assessment – I don’t know the hearts of men or women), and he is still being saved. God is changing him to look more like Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18). He’s going to sin and so am I. I’m going to repent, and I hope he does too. But the only one worthy of adoration and praise is Jesus. Not an athlete. Not an actor. Not your pastor. For Tebow to speak to any strength in his life is simply a testimony to our good God who is strengthening us (Gal. 6:14).

Ok, I’ll fess up to what you’ve probably already figured out. I actually do like Tebow. I might be blocked from entry at LSU events based on that confession, but it’s true. I like Tebow because, thus far, he is fighting the good fight and running a good race. That may not be true tomorrow and it’s certainly been untrue of me at times. Thank God for grace. But I’m not a fan (fanatic) of Tim Tebow. I respect him and he encourages me. Still, I am only a true fan of Jesus, the eternal Celebrity.

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