This Saturday Florida football traveled to the Bluegrass to take on Kentucky. Kentucky being the only major university in the state with a legitimate football team. Until Louisville is released from the Steve Kragthorpe captivity, we will continue to see poorly coached teams underperform and disappoint. Sorry, personal digression there… Back to the issue at hand
During the game, Tim Tebow dropped back to pass and a defensive end got his lifelong wish: unblocked to a Heisman Trophy winner. Superman took a helmet to the chest and as he fell he took a knee to the back of the head from one of his linemen. Here is the video:
For many Christians, Tebow has served as the voice of reason and symbol of hope. Growing up a missionary kid in the Philippines, he gives up his summers and breaks to serve the Lord in missions and is active in preaching to prisoners, visiting hospitals, and all around do-goodery. The best part is, he’s the real deal. We see celebrities and athletes throw the name of Jesus around like it’s their own name. They have this dynamic relationship with God when they score touchdowns or win games, but conveniently Jesus is absent when they get their girlfriend pregnant (while they’re married to someone else) or get arrested for possession with intent to sell. But with Tebow, we have the real deal. His faith isn’t an accessory or commodity to win fans, it’s the very breath of his life. His reason for existence isn’t football, the NFL, or the Heisman… It’s Jesus, and making Him known everywhere he goes.
This catches some flack from those who think he’s proselytizing (which he is), or for those who simply can’t handle a “too good to be true” story. There are those waiting and hoping the headline comes out “Tim Tebow gets stripper pregnant” or for a YouTube video to come out with Tebow doing the stuff Michael Phelps got busted for. For the record, I highly doubt anything like that will happen. This guy is for real, and I am so grateful for a Christian in the place Tebow is.
That said, we live in a culture of “Christian Celebrity” where we find the strength of our faith in those who appear larger than life. It can take the form of ‘pastor worship’ where a church has such a dynamic figure as a pastor that the celebrity of the pastor overshadows the message he preaches. It also takes form in the entertainment and athletic world, where we find one who believes like us and we start looking to them functionally as a demigod. We would never admit to it, but our actions betray us.
What we learned Saturday is that Superman is human after all. He took a hit and couldn’t get up. It happens in football, injuries are a common feature. But for many of us, the shock that Tebow, the larger than life ‘thrive on contact’ quarterback could be hurt was overwhelming. We learned that he is made of the same fragile flesh and bone that we are (albeit his muscles are way bigger than I or most of us will ever have). That fragility comes from the Fall, and a day will come where all of us will be freed from the limitations of our bodies that cause our bones to break, ankles to sprain, and concussions to cripple us.
My prayer is that Tim recovers quickly and is able to be the fearless leader and disciple he has shown himself to be. My prayer also is that we as Christians would recognize that he (and our other Christian celebrities) are human too.