Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tim Tebow's Public Faith

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow could be the world’s happiest man if his detractors’ criticism matches his Christianity.

Tebow is catching direct hits and lots of flack as sports people express their unkind sentiments regarding the public expression of his personal faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior. Never bashful in this regard, Tebow is an easy target now that he has zoomed to a 7-1 record as starting quarterback, contradicting the critics who proclaimed he was unready for the major leagues.

Christian analysts apparently have it right in their assessment. In view of his current winning streak, the rumbling criticism really is objection to his Christian faith. Why else would an athletic winner and ideal role model suffer such caustic reviews other than that he somehow makes the less spiritual nervous? His new nickname, “Mile High Messiah,” may mean that the criticism is beginning to morph into respect.

In taking criticism for his faith, Tebow could indeed be the happiest man on any gridiron. Early Christians counted themselves honored to suffer for Christ. “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” (Acts 5:41-42) Christ had anticipated their joy. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)

Christian persecution goes with the spiritual territory according to the Apostle Paul. “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13)

Paul considered himself uniquely blessed to witness for Christ. “I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:” (Acts 26:2)

This happiness is reaffirmed twice by Peter in his first epistle. “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’ … If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” (1 Peter 3:14; 4:14)

A precious spiritual blessing rests upon every faithful believer who is persecuted for his faith. Tim Tebow is the public example of God’s approval and personal joy.

Dave Virkler

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