It is actually embarrassing what makes for “Christian” headlines these days. And, if you’ve been reading the news you’ve probably noticed that Tim Tebow is once again breaking those headlines. Personally, I’ve always been a little confused why he became such a media sensation. His ability to be marketed as a Christian quarterback quickly won him the admiration of many in the Christian community. It leaves me wondering if throwing a good game absolves one from breaking the Lord’s Day. This time he’s making the news for his heroic commitment to abstinence and the resulting breakup with his beauty queen girlfriend, Olivia Culpo. Apparently, it’s commendable to some to put yourself into a morally compromising situation and when you come out of it to be hailed as a champion of Christianity. Again, I don’t get it.
Now, before the accusations of friendly-fire get launched in my direction let me say that I can only imagine the press and pressure Tim Tebow lives with. He is not, however, a helpless victim of the media. This is the cost of his quest for fame and fortune. What he is, at least in part, he is through his own fault. I can also understand the desire of many to find someone in the ranks of Christian pop-culture who has some semblance of commitment to sexual chastity–especially after the Josh Duggar scandal toppled what was in the eyes of many the paragon of family values. So Tim Tebow won’t have sex before marriage? Good for him! But, in our zeal to find an exemplary someone on the world’s stage, let’s not mistake the recent headlines as some pious cross bearing on Tebow’s part. After all, only months before they started dating, Olivia Culpo posed nude in a magazine saying: “I really enjoyed putting myself out there. It is very liberating to show who you really are. There is a sense of empowerment that I got from that shoot that is hard to explain.” Remind me why it’s the least bit commendable for a Christian man to get into a relationship with–and forgive my candor–a woman who is for all intents and purposes prostituting herself to every willing person. Even the Iniquistr–which isn’t usually news worth sharing–noticed this wasn’t the ideal match-up. Indeed, far from a heroic act I wonder if this is Tebow’s mea culpa!
My point in writing this isn’t to self-righteously point the finger at Tim Tebow. I have plenty of my own sins that are, thankfully I might add, not being splashed on the front-page. Nor is to advance the already growing number of juicy gossip columns. Rather, I’m writing as a pastor. And while Tebow has the attention of the national media–and perhaps yours–it might be useful to reflect on a few things:
First, while one might applaud his resilience I know many Christians for whom this isn’t true. The allurement of sin has proved too much and sexual immorality is becoming almost commonplace among young Christians. It’s ever the reminder of what God said when he warned Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door. It’s desire is for you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). The only conquest one can have over temptation and sin is in Jesus Christ and by his Spirit–both in its forgiveness and continually striving against it.
Second, the company you keep is significant. We’re told in Proverbs 13:20, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Remember, Proverbs distinguishes between wisdom and folly by the fear of the Lord. One who has no fear for the Lord is a fool and their end is destruction–and the world is full of foolish people. It matters who your friends are and it matters who you’re in a relationship with. “Call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words” (Proverbs 7:4-5).
Third, true Christianity is costly. Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26). If your Christianity isn’t costing you anything in the world–if you live for its applause, friendship, and approbation–perhaps it’s not true Christianity.
Fourth, your love for Christ is measured in obedience to his commandments, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). It’s that plain. You don’t need to go jumping through hoops to figure out what God’s will is for you. Has he commanded it? Then that’s how you love and glorify Jesus Christ.
Finally, it matters who your role models are. There’s no “perfect” Christian–only Jesus lived the perfect life. But perfection isn’t the only requirement for imitation. Rather, as the author of Hebrews wrote, “[Be] imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). Be thankful for that grandfather or grandmother, parent, pastor, or friend who–though they may live a quiet and unnoticed life–will be among the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
(EDIT: Due to feedback I have received on this article I have posted a follow up here: Kyle’s Mea Culpa).