Known for his astonishing athleticism and his public displays of faith, such as painting scripture verses on his eye-black or taking a knee to pray (now almost ubiquitously referred to by the neologism ‘Tebowing’), Tim Tebow has captured the hearts and minds of football fans across America. As many of us remember, Tebow is the first sophomore quarterback to have been awarded the Heisman Trophy, to say nothing of his many other awards and astonishing game stats. Others praise his virtue, such as his open commitment to pre-marital chastity and traditional family values.
There’s one more thing for which Tim Tebow is famous, however, and it is perhaps the signature of his Broncos career: the come-from-behind victory. Beginning in the 2010 season, and continuing this fall, Tebow has led his team to a remarkable six come-back fourth quarter or overtime victories. Six come-back victories in eleven starts: an NFL record. Why is this the signature of Tebow’s Broncos career? In order to effect such a change in a team, to lead them from trailing in the third quarter to victory, a player has to possess a singular desire to change the course of the status quo.
By this desire, this driving thirst for victory, Tim Tebow shows us a way we can think about the Christian life. First, Tebow shows us how to have hope. Hope is not just wimpy wishing-for-something-more, but true longing. On the field Tebow demonstrates this in the way he wants to win, but in the Christian life our desire is for God. We say along with the Psalmist, “O God, you are my God, it is you I seek… for your love is better than life; my lips shall ever praise you!” (Ps. 63:1,4). We have to want the goal of the Christian life. We have to want to be happy among the saints in heaven. Attaining the glories of heaven does not necessarily require puritanical existence on earth. Even in this passing life, we can meet God in our families or those in need. Or more intimately still, we can directly contact God when we approach him in the sacraments. Ultimately, we yearn for heaven where, as John tells us, “we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2), and we shall know the fullness of life, the happiness for which we were created.
Secondly, Tebow lives a perseverance applicable to us all. Even though it’s December 30, 2011, there’s still time on the clock. These last two days of 2011 may as well be the final seconds of the fourth quarter or better yet the final seconds of overtime. The New Year provides a unique opportunity because it is a time when even the secular world acknowledges the need for personal change or improvement through the New Year’s Resolution. Although we Christians know that we constantly renew our relationship with Christ, New Year’s provides a rare moment in which the world and our culture conduce to a renewal of our friendship with Him. There are things about each and every one of us which we need to perfect, to change. We creatures live in a freedom which allows us to choose goodness, happiness, and God – or life apart from God – at any moment. The Christian needs conversion now, because growth in our relationship with God coincides with ever-greater dependence on Him. The need for transformation leads to the third thing Tebow teaches us about Christian life: how to win.
Finally, Tebow demonstrates the way in which a victory comes to pass. As a quarterback, victory lies in reaching out to inspire one’s team. Tebow is the leader of the Broncos offense and he alone has the ability to convince his teammates to rely on his strength and continue to the very last seconds. Whether or not you approve of Tebowing, or his otherwise outspoken Christianity, it’s clear that Tebow is the key to Denver’s success. The Denver Broncos rely on Tebow to lead them to victory, and how much more should the Christian rely on the Savior, Jesus Christ. As 2 Thessalonians says, “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ” (3:5). The Son of God encourages each of us in the contest of this world in order that we may win the greatest victory: the everlasting happiness of heaven.
Image: Getty Images, Tim Tebow