Ross Douthat writes an intriguing op-ed in the New York Times about Tebow’s move to New York. It’s worth reading the whole thing, but one part jumps out in particular. Douthat writes:
But let’s be unsophisticated for a moment. Why is Tim Tebow such a fascinating and polarizing figure? Not just because he claims to be religious; that claim is commonplace among football stars and ordinary Americans alike. Rather, it’s because his conduct — kind, charitable, chaste, guileless — seems to actually vindicate his claim to be in possession of a life-altering truth.
Nothing discredits religion quite like the gap that often yawns between what believers profess and how they live. With Tebow, that gap seems so narrow as to be invisible. (“There’s not an ounce of artifice or phoniness or Hollywood in this kid Tebow,” ESPN’s Rick Reilly wrote last year of the quarterback’s charitable works, “and I’ve looked everywhere for it.”) He fascinates, in part, because he behaves — at least in public, and at least for now — the way one would expect more Christians to behave if their faith were really true.
Douthat rightly identifies the significance of Tebow’s witness, namely, the integrity of it. Tebow stands out because he practices what he preaches, and for Douthat, this is truly notable. His observation is remarkable for two reasons.
One, Douthat confirms the power of true Christian witness. True Christian witness consists of words and deeds. The ministry of Jesus modeled this very thing. Jesus both taught and healed. He both preached to and prayed over people. Douthat’s reflections verify the weight and effectiveness of this kind of witness.
Two, Douthat’s observation indicts us, the Christians. It is sad to think that Tebow’s spiritual consistency is viewed as such a bizarre thing. Jesus said, “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). With so many Christians in the world, surely the earth would be flooded with the light of our actions. But apparently, for many people such as Douthat, our words and our actions seem a million miles apart.
So once again, regardless of how you feel about Tebow, let us be challenged by the questions his witness raises.