Monday, March 26, 2012

Tebowing, Jeremy Lin, & Jesus

Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin are Christians whose fans admire them as much for cultural and religious intangibles as for their athletic ability.

On his Facebook page, Lin quotes Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." During games, Tebow kneels periodically for prayer. Both are public in their religious devotion. In this way, they are similar. But, there are differences as well and the differences between Lin and Tebow are reminders that, like the Christian community itself, overtly religious athletes come in all shapes and sizes.

I hear two very different takes on Tebow and Lin and while contradictory, both are right. Take one: Christians are to share their faith and are not to be ashamed of their religious convictions. Tebow and Lin are icons of this Christian virtue. Take two: Christians are not to practice their piety to be seen by others. Jesus said Christians should pray in their closets where they can be seen by God, but not others.

Like all Christians, Tebow and Lin must find a path between these two demands.

Jesus criticized the overt piety of publicly admired religious figures in his day. They seemed to him to be doing it, not as a devotion to God, but as a way of gaining attention to themselves.

Jesus also said that his followers should not "hide their lamp under a bushel, but should let it shine."

Both of these dictates are to be followed similtaneiously. Navigating the narrow path is not easy.

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