"Patience is a fruit of the Spirit much needed by theologians."
- N.T. Wright
Friday, December 2, 2011
I like me some Kurt Warner (as a person -- my football loyalties always laid elsewhere, esp. when he and his Rams devastated my Titans in the Super Bowl), but I didn't like his recent advice to Tim Tebow:
I’d tell him, "Put down the boldness in regards to the words, and keep living the way you’re living. Let your teammates do the talking for you. Let them cheer on your testimony."The idea behind this and other counsel to young master Tebow to lighten up on the Jesus talk is that talking about Jesus turns people off, so one should just be a good person instead. I've now seen both Christians and non-Christians suggest this approach.
There are a few problems with this advice:
1. It assumes Tim isn't already "being a good person."
2. It assumes one can simply imply the gospel with actions and it be understood.
3. It assumes that the gospel isn't offensive, really, but is made so through verbalizing it too much.
All of those assumptions are incorrect. Clearly for Tebow (who I respect and appreciate as a person -- my football loyalties lay elsewhere :-) which is a good thing since even though "he just wins," he's not a very good quarterback (yet?)) speaking the gospel and demonstrating its implications is not an either/or proposition. He rightly understands you cannot do one without the other.
I listened to a guest on Jim Rome's ESPN2 show yesterday say Tebow would commend his message more if he stopped talking about it and simply became a good football player. What all these folks appear to be saying is this: "Tebow turns people off by talking about his message so much." But what my ears hear is this: "Tebow's message makes me really uncomfortable and I don't like it, so I wish he'd just shut up and 'be nice'."
In fact, the Rome guest used the words "shoving it in our face," which is what offended parties often say about people who actually don't shove anything in anybody's face but merely talk most about what's most important to them. Last I heard, Tebow was not randomly showing up at people's homes and workplaces and cornering them with an evangelistic appeal. People are asking him questions, requesting interviews, wanting to hear what he has to say. And what Tebow has to say is directly influenced by the most direct influence on his life. Shouldn't this be true of everyone who claims Christ saved them?
What most of us seem ill-equipped to understand is a public figure so enamored with the love of Jesus he won't shut up about it. May his tribe increase, I say.
Tebow is apparently not the kind of star interested in paying Jesus some lip service when he wins a game or award. He's apparently a guy whose mouth is connected to the overflow of his heart.
The truth is that the gospel is a scandal. I wish brothers like Kurt Warner would factor that into their consideration. That people are blanching at Tebow's Christ-centered words is not because Tebow is offensive but because Christ is.
The truth is that faith comes by hearing, not by deducing through comfortable apprehension of good deeds. An implied gospel is a gospel fail.
(Oh, and that quote often attributed to St. Francis -- "Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary use words"? Yeah, he didn't say that. Or believe it.)