Bowing to God or Bowing to Man
I love Tim Tebow. I love him as a brother in Christ and I love to watch him play football. Heretofore, he has stood tall as a Christian and he has always stood tall as an athlete. Up until now, he has been bold in his faith and he has always been bold as a quarterback.
I love Dr. Robert Jeffress. I love him as a brother in Christ and I love to hear him preach. He has stood tall as a Christian and he has stood tall as a pulpiteer. He has always been bold in his faith and he has always been bold as a pastor.
Recently, Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Dallas, asked Tebow, a New York Jets quarterback, to speak at his church. At first, Tebow agreed, then he cancelled.
After a phone conversation with Tebow, Jeffress said, “He explained to me that because of things going on in his personal life and his professional career—that he really needed to avoid controversy right now. We are disappointed.”
So, what happened between the “Yes” and the “No”? A lot.
The social media exploded. Tebow, who has always been the target of criticism because of his faith and his football, was attacked like never before. They went crazy on Twitter and Facebook. The bloggers spewed their hatred. The Internet was burning up with venomous opinions. Hell hath no fury like Christian bashers and football fans.
What were these haters so upset about? How dare Tebow even CONSIDER speaking at a church where the pastor preaches that Jesus is the only way to Heaven and calls homosexuality a sin, they said. Jeffress and Tebow must despise people of other faiths, including Muslims and Jews, and they must despise homosexuals, they fumed.
Never mind that Jeffress and Tebow simply believe the Biblical tenets of Christianity which have been in place for roughly 2,000 years.
As far as Jesus being the only way to Heaven, Jesus Himself said He was the only way to Heaven. In the New Testament book of John, He is quoted as saying “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).
As far as homosexuality being a sin, the Bible clearly condemns it in the Old Testament and again in the New Testament. In Romans, Paul wrote, “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward one another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet” (Romans 1:26-27).
Jeffress and Tebow, as followers of Christ, would, without question, agree with Jesus about how to get to Heaven. If they didn’t, they would be calling Jesus a liar or would be implying He is simply misinformed. As God, by definition, Jesus would never lie and He would never be misinformed. In addition, Jeffress and Tebow both regard the Bible as a source of truth, so it would stand to reason they see homosexuality as a sin. Just like their Savior, they love sinners enough to tell them what they believe to be the truth, but the culture twists that into hate.
With all of that in mind, was the heat too much for Tebow? Did he cave and throw Jeffress under the bus? Did he bow to man rather than God? Did he let the politically correct thought police intimidate him? By all appearances, one would think so.
I have no idea what is going on in his personal life, but I do know this is a very difficult time for Tebow professionally. Trade rumors have been swirling around him after an extremely disappointing 2012 season. He did not play much as a backup in New York, and when he did play, his performances were not impressive. Along the way, he suffered two broken ribs.
The Jets have said they will probably trade him. He has already played for the Denver Broncos and was dealt to the Jets when the Broncos signed Peyton Manning. He faces the prospect of moving to a third professional team after only three years in the National Football League.
Professionally, things are not going in a positive direction for Tebow. One NFL general manager was anonymously quoted as saying, “I think his career is over without playing another position.” The one team to express interest in Tebow last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars, is no longer interested, according to some reports. After a season with the Jets, his prospects for starting as a quarterback elsewhere in the NFL appear to be dim.
Did the personal criticism and the professional uncertainty play a part in his refusal to speak in Dallas? I think so. But as a Christian, do professional considerations get him off the hook? Definitely not.
As a believer, his first obligation is to Christ. There are no excuses when you make the commitment to serve the Lord Jesus. It is a lifetime proposition and it often means you will face trials and tribulations, including vicious criticism from today’s secular culture. Barring something catastrophic that we don’t know about in his personal life, his answer to Jeffress should have been “Yes.”
On this one, the first time around, I think Tebow fumbled. May God forgive me if I am wrong, but I believe Tebow was afraid he would become a “hot potato” were he to become even more of a lightning rod after speaking at a conservative, Southern Baptist church. I suspect he feared he would be less marketable during trade talks if the “speaking” controversy kept following him. If that’s the case, shame on Tim Tebow.
By cancelling, he has cast aspersions on an outstanding pastor and a church with sterling credentials. He has emboldened the Left and the next time they will be even more harsh in their criticism, figuring to win yet another round in the culture wars.
He has compromised his own testimony by bowing to the homosexual lobby and he has compromised a faithful fellow Christian and a historic church. He has aided and abetted in the social media trashing of First Baptist Dallas.
In spite of all of this, Jeffress said, “As long as I am the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas—we are not going to kneel before the altar of political correctness and convenience. We are going to stand up and boldly proclaim the grace of God and the truth of God without compromise—so help me God. That is my commitment.”
Meanwhile, Tebow has said he will speak at First Baptist Dallas at a later date. If he does, he’ll be off the hook, because God is a God of second chances. How do I know? Because, like Tim Tebow, I am a sinner saved by His grace.
Ed Baswell is the host of “Crossfire Radio,” Monday through Friday, 7-9 am, on The Promise, 90.7 FM. The show is streamed live at promisetalkradio.org.