Steven Patrick doesn’t particularly care for Tim Tebow. After quoting Matthew 6:5-6 (the passage where Jesus commands us to pray in secret) he writes:
The Bible verse above – quoted in the New International Edition, for ease of comprehension – says it all: Don’t make a show of your religion. There it is, unequivocal, clear as a daylight, and even – if you read the whole chapter – spelled out in great, almost excessive, detail. This is the same Bible that lies at the root of Tebow’s faith, supposedly; the book to which he makes frequent reference.
I’ve been following the Tebow story with a degree of fascination all season, as I’m sure many of you have. Frankly, if you’re a football fan, it’s been difficult to avoid it. Last week Time Magazine argued that Tim Tebow had a more prominent platform for speaking about Christ than any pastor or evangelist.
As one of the most influential believers in the United States, should Christians support Tebow?
Christians who are giving Tebow a hard time over Matthew 6:5-6 need to understand the passage in its proper context and historical situation. As Skye Jethani points out, Jesus doesn’t strictly prohibit public prayer. Rather, it is hypocritical prayer that Jesus is concerned with: those of us who would pretend to pray publicly with the motive of appearing more righteous than we are.
Jesus, after all, frequently prayed in public before meals and while listeners were gathered around. As a result his followers asked him to train them in prayer (Luke 11:1). If the motivation is coming from a true relationship with God that is simply overflowing into many facets of his life, Tebow seems to be standing on firm ground.
I don’t know Tim Tebow, but he seems like a good kid. He was mic’d up during a recent game and seemed genuinely kind and caring whether he was throwing a touchdown pass or getting ground into the turf by a 300-pound lineman. I’ve heard him thank God for the ability to play football, but I’ve never heard him say that God grants him victories (or losses). I believe it’s likely that his faith is genuine and I know for a fact that he has a huge platform to influence others.
So maybe instead of criticizing Tebow we should pray for him. He has the opportunity to talk about Jesus and have millions of people hear him. The temptation in his profession to walk away from God or to live immorally is astronomically high.
I hope he’s successful, but more importantly I pray that his fidelity to Christ remains strong regardless of how his career turns out.
But I’ll still be rooting for the Steelers.