Is Tim Tebow a symbol of anti-Christian hate?

By Robin Schumacher

I'm not a sports guy. At all. I don't follow sports now and never really have. It's not that I dislike it; I just never truly got into any sport from a TV/viewing standpoint, outside of the time I lived near Detroit (and lived to tell about it) and followed the Pistons a little.

But, as a Christian I can't help but take notice of Tim Tebow. I doubt you need me to review his personal or professional resume, so I'll just get right to my question: Is Tebow a current and glowing representative of the growing anti-Christian hate that's in America?

As evidence, I won't be pointing you to the other pro football players who mimic and mock Tebow's now famous prayer on the field to thank God, or to the recent slur twittered by Bill Maher. Instead, I want you to look at today's poll conducted on CNN's website (main page).

CNN asks its web readers if they'd like Tebow as a neighbor, and the second most popular response is "not in my state"? Exactly what about Tebow is not to like? Or perhaps the better question is, what is Tebow best known for?

Answer: his Christian faith.

What else could these people object to? His fame, fortune, something else? I can't imagine that.

I believe what we're seeing in CNN's poll (and perhaps in the readership of CNN's website) is how the fallen world reacts to a Christian who is very open about their faith. The slide toward secular humanism in this country provides an open door for the spirit in non-Christians to demonstrate their deep dedication to privatizing expressions of Christian faith. The hostility that this attitude showcases can be surprising at times. I see it more and more each day. I see it on where "hatetheists" troll nearly every story on the site and write disrespectful and hateful messages in the article comments sections to the Christians who are there. I see it when Christians like Frank Turek are fired from their professional jobs for merely expressing their opinion on same-sex marriage — outside of the workplace, I might add. And I see it when publications like the Atlantic Monthly list Tebow as one of the "15 most divisive athletes in recent history," along with guys like Michael Vick and Dennis Rodman.

I think right now Christians in the U.S. have never more experienced the true words of Christ when He said, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you" (John 15:18). Tebow's treatment reminds me of how Isaiah describes those who dare to openly and publicly make themselves different from the world: "He who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey" (Isaiah 59:15).

There used to be a Christian argument that went, "If you were alone on a remote road and were approached by a gang of rough looking men, would you be frightened?" The Christian asking the question typically would receive a "yes" answer, and then follow up with: "Would it make a difference to you if you knew those men had just come from a Bible study and were Christians?"

If the CNN Tebow poll is any indication, a growing segment of the population might answer that they would be more afraid of the second situation. What a sad commentary.

What should we do in the face of such growing anti-Christian behavior?

First, expect such treatment from the world. Paul says, "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12).

Second, show the world Christ even in the face of such hate. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter wrote, "For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:2123).

Easy to do? Not at all. However, we need to follow Tebow's example of how he reacts to the anti-Christian hostility that he gets, which the Apostle Paul also wrote about: "Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ...standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:2729).

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Published 1-31-12