Let’s get one thing straight: I am not “Lin-sane” or a “Tebow Maniac.”
While I do not dislike these Christian athletes that have caught the eye of the evangelical world, I do not see much difference between the ministries of basketball player Jeremy Lin, football player Tim Tebow and any other Christian who proclaims their faith on a daily basis.
I simply do not believe that media coverage and athletic prowess give someone a heightened standing in the kingdom of God.
Recently, however, the Denver Broncos acquired future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, causing them to trade Tebow to the New York Jets.
It is difficult not to feel bad for Tebow after he led the Broncos to the second round of the playoffs last season, but that is the nature of sports these days.
The Broncos are not in the business of spreading the Gospel of Tebow; they are in the business of winning Super Bowls.
In response to the Tebow trade, televangelist Pat Robertson had some choice words for the Denver Broncos.
Robertson claimed that the team had treated Tebow “shabbily.” Robertson even went so far as to say that if Manning, who is returning from an injury, got injured, it would serve the Broncos right for trading Tebow.
(It was clarified later that Robertson was not wishing for Manning to get injured.)
It often baffles me when Christians are treated poorly or “shabbily” and respond by attacking their “unjust” persecutor.
Christianity does not promise that society will treat us as better or even equal citizens.
In fact, Christianity practically teaches the opposite. 1 Timothy 3:12 says that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
In my opinion, the bigger issue raised by Robertson’s statements deals with God’s ability and freedom to work through his followers as they move and testify across the country and globe.
Rather than attacking the Broncos for trading Tebow, perhaps we should thank the Broncos for trading Tebow to a team that may value him even more.
The Jets are coming off a disappointing season. Amid a vocal coach in Rex Ryan and locker room upheaval, the presence of a Christian like Tebow might be a very good thing.
It is very easy for us as Christians to hold on to a ministry or something good until it becomes something bad. Perhaps Tebow would have spent the entire year on the bench, while the Jets remained desperately in need of a cohesive presence on their team.
As a senior in college looking to graduate in May, questions about leaving my current situation in order to go somewhere else are not foreign to me.
I have often considered trying to arrange my credits so that I could stay for a fifth year, prolonging the inevitable.
After four wonderful years at one school, it is difficult to see myself anywhere else.
In the process of looking at and visiting graduate schools, I predictably began comparing my current school with all potential future schools.
I found out very quickly that my opinion of these schools was valued, but God’s opinion was ultimately the final factor in deciding on graduate schools.
Just as Tebow probably felt like Denver was his home, I feel as if my current school has become my home.
There is a problem, however, in thinking this way. As Christians, this world does not offer us a home. We are merely aliens living in a foreign land.
Instead of complaining, we should meet our changes with enthusiasm and excitement. Next year will offer many new challenges to both Tebow and me.
While I still do not consider myself a “Tebow Maniac,” I look forward to hearing about how the Jets are affected by his presence on their team.
If Tebow earns the starting position, leads the team to the playoffs and is traded in the off-season, I hope he will have accomplished everything God intended for him in New York.
Andrew Gardner holds a PhD in American Religious History and is the author of “Reimagining Zion: A History of the Alliance of Baptists” (Nurturing Faith Publishing).