What do people find offensive about Tim Tebow, quarterback for the Denver Broncos? He talks about Jesus all the time. The New York Times declared Tebow-mania to be [Quote] “a full-blown national debate about religion and its place in sports.” [End quote.] Were Tim Tebow a Muslim, sports fans and commentators would show respect—perhaps out of fear for their lives. But Tim Tebow is a Christian. Attacks on Christians in culture have been acceptable since Jesus was crucified. Those who hate Tebow because he is a Christian are the reason for Jesus’ comment, “They don’t hate you, they hate me.”
But the hatred of Tim Tebow as a Christian really is not the issue. If Tim were a plumber, doctor, school teacher, or janitor, no one would care. In American culture, however, NFL football is itself sacred. Tim Tebow plays NFL football. American football has a powerful influence in American culture. And here is the obvious issue. The Christian message penetrates to all aspects of life. People look at Tebow and think, “Wow. He won two national championships, a Heisman trophy at Florida, and now he plays NFL football. I might listen to this debate about religion in football because he plays football.”
The Christian message is either loved or hated because it connects to real life. When the Christian message came into the world through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ there were many similarities to the pagan religions of the day. Pagans believed in heroes, that man could become a god. Jesus claimed both natures: God and man. Romans offered sacrifices. Jesus sacrificed himself. People believed in miracles. Jesus performed miracles. Greeks believed in celebrity gods produced through unusual births. Jesus was born of a virgin. You see, pagan people in Jesus’ day heard the message He spoke and said, “That sounds familiar!” Rodney Stark, in his recent book The Triumph of Christianity, said it best, [Quote] “Christian similarities with pagan mythology played well in the pagan world!” [End quote]
Any time something plays well in the world people take notice. Some will hate, others will love. The so-called problem with Tim Tebow is not that he is a Christian. Tim Tebow is a Christian who plays football; and he plays it well. I am not surprised by the Tim Tebow debate. You see, during Christmas when humans sing about “peace on earth” the Prince of Peace says “I came not to bring peace, but a sword.” Jesus divides people because they can’t believe His message plays so well in the world. For Moody Radio, this is Dr. Mark Eckel, personally seeking truth wherever it’s found.
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Mark loves NFL football, Tim Tebow, and Jesus. This blog will air on Moody Radio on Monday, 19 December 2011.
 Rodney Stark. The Triumph of Christianity. Harper One, 2011, p. 83.