For the professing Christian, especially of the Evangelical variety, the negativity and vitriol toward Tebow has been rather confusing. It's hard for some to comprehend. Surprisingly, it's coming mainly from other professing Christians, though not necessarily from Evangelicals. Social media, blogs, personal and sports website forums abound with condemnation of all things Tebow.
Not the least of these sites is Commandments of Men moderated by Lewis Wells. Tim Tebow has been the topic of several blog posts over the last few months. The latest is entitled This Tebow Stuff, I tell Ya.
Following the theme of previous posts, it condemns Tebow's openly public display of acknowledgement of and devotion to God as a follower of Jesus Christ. This condemnation is predicated on the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:5-6,
- 5. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be like the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
- 6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
According to this particular statement by Jesus as understood by Lewis Wells, all public prayers by His followers are forbidden.
Closer examination will, however, reveal quite the contrary. And hopefully we will be prevented from doing what Lewis so personally and thoroughly hates and detests, outward legalism.
Continuing the pattern set earlier in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus, rather than attacking the outward action, instead confronts the heart of men. Jesus didn't condemn praying in Public. He did, however, condemn public praying simply to be seen by others. The inner motive for praying in public was the key issue, not the outward action.
Jesus said that we are not to be like the Hypocrites "because" they love to pray to be seen of men. Then Jesus addresses the next topic, reward. Jesus says that the hypocrites have received what they were after, the acknowledgement of others.
Yet Jesus tells us that public rewards should come from God after we have prayed when no one was watching except God. His approval is to be what we are seeking, not the approval of others.
Interestingly, this supposedly direct prohibition to publicly pray comes into stark conflict with what Jesus earlier stated in this same sermon in Matthew 5:16,
- Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Is it possible that Jesus was confused? Maybe he didn't realize that he was contradicting Himself!
Don't count on it! Jesus knew exactly what he was saying and any conflict in His words is imaginary. His words are perfectly complementary to one another.
And in the case of Tim Tebow, this is exactly what he seems to be doing, letting his light shine before men. And if you want to condemn Tebow for his public displays, you have delved into the realm of judging a man's heart, which we all are ill equipped for.
In fact, later in the same Sermon, Jesus tells us that by their fruits you shall know them. (Matt. 7:16a) What are the fruits of Tim Tebow? Well, look at his actions on and off the field. Let them speak on Tim's behalf.
Then again, maybe everyone would be happier if Tebow ran afoul of the law, the NFL and society at large. Maybe thugs are easier to identify with than being raised by parents who care for third world residents by taking care of their physical needs as well as telling them about the Savior who loved them and gave His Own life so that they could have Eternal Life.
Personally, I prefer Tim Tebow just as he is.