Tim Tebow and Christian Celebrity: Do we cry for a champion to live our faith because we don’t know how to?

In some cultures, a champion would be chosen to fight the opposing army’s champion. In fact, David and Goliath clashed in such an encounter. If the giant can be felled, the people of Israel would be seen as winners over the Philistines. Less blood shed kept the champion option popular and practical. David won with dramatic flair. But, this is not a good analogy for today when we think of Tebow as a Christian champion. We don’t need a champion, but we need his example.

Instead of wearing his jersey, we should play like he does. There is a difference between of a hero versus being a role model. It is so much more comfortable in our Christian subculture to have icons do the work for us. On Sundays, we expect the worship team to get us to God, the preacher to have the answers, and still be home in time for the kick off. Our families do not grow from such a shallow faith. Tebow is simply being who he is. Who are we when we are being ourselves? 

With naiveté we look to our modern day saints/Christian celebrities to be there for us. Wearing a Tebow football jersey for some is like a wearing a patron saint’s around their necks. We need the symbol, the identification, and the inspiration. Some of this is entirely positive and good. However, taking personal ownership of ourselves should be our aim. We need to live our faith. An inspiring and vocal quarterback of a professional football team has a unique platform. I am OK with how he is using it. How we are using it is where things fall apart.

  • We use it to hide. We hide behind the walls of the ghetto of Christian subculture. It is important to “Tebow” (i.e. Pray) when we are having a bad day. The “us and them” becomes clearer. Tebow is not hiding, he is bringing faith to his platform. Where is our platform and how do we express faith there?
  • We use it to justify. We justify our personal and collective lackluster impact on the culture. We point to Tebow not as an example. He is our hero. He is “us”! Tebow so far claims only to speak for himself. Is our personal voice credible where we live and work?
  • We use it to profit. We profit from exploiting the Christian subculture’s need for public validation and acceptance. Tebow seems to aim to play good football and simply share Jesus. Is that our aim in our vocation?
  • We use it to fight. We have a war waged with our culture. Instead of showing love and creating culture, we hope we can use a Tebow to further a cultural agenda. Tebow models culture creation. In fact, “Tebowing” is a new language. What do we do that inspires new language in our field of work?

Are we “using” Tebow as a champion to live out our faith? Or, what is really going on here?

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

10 comments

  1. No question, Tim Tebow has just wanted to go out there and be the best football player he can be. In the process, he hasn’t shied away his Christian faith, nor has he changed his lifestyle just because he’s in the limelight now. We’re the ones who have put him up on this spiritual pedestal, likely for many of the reasons you mentioned. There’s a Christian culture out there that clamors for celebrities who profess a faith in Christ to be “one of us.” I really like how you make the distinction between hero and role model. Heroes get worshipped; role models get emulated. There is only One Person I worship!

    1. Rick, thanks. We do miss the difference between “hero” & “role model” We could be guilty of idolatry more than we know.

  2. No question, Tim Tebow has just wanted to go out there and be the best football player he can be. In the process, he hasn’t shied away his Christian faith, nor has he changed his lifestyle just because he’s in the limelight now. We’re the ones who have put him up on this spiritual pedestal, likely for many of the reasons you mentioned. There’s a Christian culture out there that clamors for celebrities who profess a faith in Christ to be “one of us.” I really like how you make the distinction between hero and role model. Heroes get worshipped; role models get emulated. There is only One Person I worship!

    1. Rick, thanks. We do miss the difference between “hero” & “role model” We could be guilty of idolatry more than we know.

  3. No question, Tim Tebow has just wanted to go out there and be the best football player he can be. In the process, he hasn’t shied away his Christian faith, nor has he changed his lifestyle just because he’s in the limelight now. We’re the ones who have put him up on this spiritual pedestal, likely for many of the reasons you mentioned. There’s a Christian culture out there that clamors for celebrities who profess a faith in Christ to be “one of us.” I really like how you make the distinction between hero and role model. Heroes get worshipped; role models get emulated. There is only One Person I worship!

    1. Rick, thanks. We do miss the difference between “hero” & “role model” We could be guilty of idolatry more than we know.

  4. No question, Tim Tebow has just wanted to go out there and be the best football player he can be. In the process, he hasn’t shied away his Christian faith, nor has he changed his lifestyle just because he’s in the limelight now. We’re the ones who have put him up on this spiritual pedestal, likely for many of the reasons you mentioned. There’s a Christian culture out there that clamors for celebrities who profess a faith in Christ to be “one of us.” I really like how you make the distinction between hero and role model. Heroes get worshipped; role models get emulated. There is only One Person I worship!

    1. Rick, thanks. We do miss the difference between “hero” & “role model” We could be guilty of idolatry more than we know.

  5. No question, Tim Tebow has just wanted to go out there and be the best football player he can be. In the process, he hasn’t shied away his Christian faith, nor has he changed his lifestyle just because he’s in the limelight now. We’re the ones who have put him up on this spiritual pedestal, likely for many of the reasons you mentioned. There’s a Christian culture out there that clamors for celebrities who profess a faith in Christ to be “one of us.” I really like how you make the distinction between hero and role model. Heroes get worshipped; role models get emulated. There is only One Person I worship!

    1. Rick, thanks. We do miss the difference between “hero” & “role model” We could be guilty of idolatry more than we know.

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