I figure that title would get your attention…
So I’ve been trying to figure out for weeks what is bothering me about Tim Tebow. Some Christians have started holding him up as a shining example of how to live the Christian life in your daily life and work. Some non-Christians think he’s a religious fanatic blowhard and wish he would shut up about Jesus and start talking about football. (Even though I share Tebow’s Christian faith, I fall into the latter camp. I admit it, he reminds me of a time when born-again Christians were thought of as people with no feet on the ground, only their heads in the skies, and I don’t like to go back there, because there was a lot of junk from that era in my own life that I don’t miss. He sometimes makes it sound like the only thing people of the Christian Faith ever do sounds like religious drivel. Sorry, Tim, if you ever read this.)
In the middle of all this, the media decides how to portray him… we decide who he is based on that… and any trace of the real Good News about who Jesus is and what he came to do is lost behind a big lie. It’s the same lie many of us who call ourselves Christian tell ourselves at funerals when we say that the departed is with God because of their exemplary life.
No, I don’t think Tebow is a liar, but many of us “regular” people are, unfortunately, hearing what we want to hear. And what we are hearing is that somebody who follows Christ has some weird superpower to live a life beyond reproach, a life that is filled with a kind of perfection that is, in the end… not an example to follow, but a de-motivator to the folks who feel like they’ve already blown it, who have already made enough mistakes that there’s really no way that the “god” that they identify with what they are making of a guy like Tim Tebow wants anything to do with them.
And on the other hand, when some well-meaning folks lift up his life as an example, they make it seem like a big guy who throws a ball and bumps into other big guys is somehow doing something more spiritual than the regular guy who volunteers at the local Food Bank or a missionary or someone who gives their life to charity work or maybe the regular unknown guy who works hard at his job, does honest work, loves his family, practices generosity and love, and flies beneath the radar because the only people he shares his faith with are his neighbors, not millions of TV watchers.
And none of that is even close to the Good News. In fact, it’s not even the Good News that Tebow believes, in reality. Some day, Tebow might to slip and fall. I hope he doesn’t pull a Roethlisberger or a Michael Vick, but chances are that he’s going to fail, at least in some eyes, and there will be a contingent of people who get their theology more from YouTube and Facebook and the Internet than from Scripture and from Christ who will say, “See, it can’t be done after all.” And in a sense… that is the truth. But sadly, some will give up even the attempt, based on their own shallow pop-culture theology. And that is very sad. Because this fact that we can’t live a life is pleasing to God is the beginning of the end of despair.
The Christian Life as you may think it exists is indeed impossible. It can’t be lived. Perfection can’t be obtained. Uprightness will never be earned, and there is no hope for you to live the way you imagine you should. (And no, Tim Tebow can’t do that either, even with his superpowers.) That, by the way… IS the good news.
Somebody else did it for you. Even died in your place.
I hope that some folks will sit down and think about it, maybe re-engage with what Jesus actually said he came to do; to call sinners to repentance, to lay down his life for the lost, to rise up again so that we might be friends with God and not enemies, not to call perfect people to try in vain to live perfect lives.
There’s a story Jesus tells in the Bible about two men who go to the temple one day. One stands up and says “Oh, thank you God that I live such a righteous life, that I’m not like that horrible sinner over there.” The horrible sinner bows his head and says a prayer that has become embedded in some of our Eastern Christian cultures, and a prayer that I’ve actually learned to practice throughout my day. “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus says that that second man is the one who left in right standing with God.
That is the Good News. Sorry for my faltering way of expressing it… Matt Chandler does it better here.