What is so wrong with Tim Tebow?

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The Lions have been a big football story around these parts, but a bigger national story has been Tim Tebow.

Tebow is the starting quarterback for the NFL Denver Broncos. Tebow became the starter when Kyle Orton was removed after a 1-4 record to start the season, and has led his team to wins in four out of five games. The Broncos have surged from last place to second place in their division and are in position for a possible playoff berth. Yet he has been maligned and criticized, some calling him terrible and the most polarizing figure in football. Some vigorously love him and others vehemently hate him.

The recent uproar over Tebow prompted New York Times columnist, Greg Bishop, to write a column where he defines "the Tebow Derangement Syndrome." This malady is "the acute onset of mockery and verbal 'hatred' in otherwise normal people in reaction to the football prowess and play -- nay -- the very existence of Tim Tebow." Why is Tebow so disliked?

Is it his football ability? Granted he throws the ball sparingly -- in other words, he is not a Tom Brady or an Aaron Rodgers. But he has thrown seven touchdown passes, and if you are ahead at the end of the game, does it matter how much the ball is thrown?

His main offensive play is the "quarterback read," which is found more on college campuses than in professional ball and one that many believe will not work over the long haul in the NFL. But aren't sports about "What have you done for me lately?" not "What might you do in the future?" Tebow is definitely an unconventional quarterback who brings home wins. Shouldn't that bring respect?

Now, I know that this is not a sports column, and no, I do not wish it were! We have talented writers at the Petoskey News-Review that handle all that stuff. But, what I am writing about is not solely a story about sports. What is it about Tebow that has raised the ire of many?

It must be his attitude. Some clearly do not like his overtly optimistic disposition. For example, when criticized by the media in an interview setting, a standard undeterred Tebow reply is, "I just need to work on that harder." Perhaps it is his intensity and competitive nature that comes out? One time, he completed a football game with a broken leg. It might be that some scorn his "gung-ho" dedication. You know, kind of like, "Come on Tebow, just chill a little. When you got a broken leg, come out of the game."

It must be his "Tebowing," a neologism derived from his persistent kneeling and praying before, during and after games. "Why doesn't he do that in private instead of out in front of many?" is a common concern. Some, after sacking him, have mocked him with their own version of Tebowing. My first thought on this is, who knows what one might do when chased around a field by 300-pound bullies that are ready to rip your head off?

It must be his pro-life stance. During last year's Super Bowl, Tebow became a lightning rod when a brief part of his story was shared during a commercial spot to point viewers to celebrate family and life. Before Tebow was born, it was believed he would be stillborn. The doctor recommended an abortion to protect his mother's life but she remained undaunted and refused. Many voice their opposition to a pro-life message, but isn't it reasonable to grant a voice in the abortion debate to one whose life was spared despite a doctor's recommendation?

It must be his professed sexual purity. In 2008, Tebow declined a spot on the Playboy All American Team by stating that it "conflicted with his values." In 2009, Tebow, while still a student athlete, fielded an "off the radar" question from a reporter who asked if he "was saving himself for marriage." Tebow gathered himself from the shock of the question and replied with a countercultural response that he was abstaining from sex until he married.

It must be because of his forthrightness of being a follower of Jesus Christ. Hmm.

In Matthew 5:11-12, Jesus said, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." It should not surprise us that Tebow, the man of faith, is chided, reviled and mocked because he has chosen to live out his life for Christ. Many people claim to be Christians but few take the risk of authenticating it by living it out.

What about you? Are you living out your faith? Are you willing to face ridicule by standing up for what is right? I am not talking about being violent, obnoxious, judgmental or a know-it-all. But are you someone who is making the most out of your life for Christ?

Now, my position is not that Tim Tebow is perfect. He is only 24 years old, and it will be amazing if he doesn't make any public mistakes. But up to this point, he is a worthy example for young and old alike. Listen to his wisdom, "Doing things differently opens you up for criticism, and I am ready for it and have learned to live with it." Tebow is doing things differently, some would say he is doing what is right. What is so wrong about that?

It really boils down to what one reporter said, "Tebow loves God and touchdowns, in that order."

Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, which meets 9:30 a.m. Sundays at the Petoskey Cinema and 11 a.m. Sundays at Boyne City elementary. For more information, visit www.genesiswired.com.
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