As I am sure you have all heard by now, Christian icon and celebrated football star Tim Tebow has cancelled his scheduled appearance at a controversial mega-church in Dallas, Texas. I say "controversial" because Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, has been painted as a "hate-monger" for some of his out-spoken theological opinions.
I urge you to research his comments on your own; some of which have been noted on The Huffington Post's blog. Don't accept their opinion, nor anyone else's, for that matter --- not even mine. You can find a multitude of his opinions by just googling his name. But read them all, not just a select few. Read what he has said; compare them to Scripture, and then make up your own mind. Are they his opinion only? Are they Biblical? Do his remarks stand the test of traditional Christian doctrine? Or are they the ravings of a bigoted preacher, teaching a false doctrine? You should decide for yourself.
But, I don't want to get sidetracked from my objective with this post. It is not to dissect Pastor Jeffress's theological positions. I have my own opinion, but I don't think his preaching is even the most important facet of this story. It is, instead, the actions of Mr. Tebow.
I have been a fan of Tim's; of his willingness to wear his faith on his sleeve (or at the very least, on his Eye Black during football games). He has not shied away from the importance of Christ in his life --- at least, not until now.
I can't know his heart; nor can any of us. Only he knows the true reasons he cancelled his scheduled appearance. According to news reports, he cited "personal and professional reasons" and a "need to avoid controversy". And he took to Twitter to express a more personal apology: While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ's unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance. I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!
So here's the thought that keeps screaming in my head .... If you wanted to share a message of Christ's love, WHAT WAS STOPPING YOU, TIM? If you disagreed with Pastor Jeffress's theology, wouldn't that have been the perfect opportunity to repudiate it? And if you were only worried about your pubic image in appearing at the controversial church, wouldn't you have enhanced it by showing Christ's love and proclaiming His message? Christ should have been at the center of your decision, not your reputation or public perception.
If I had been advising this young Christian man of faith, I would have reminded him that Faith is active, not passive. And Faith involves risks, not playing it safe. "A need to avoid controversy?" That can never be a part of the Christian's playbook!
Yesterday, I heard a wonderful sermon by John Maisel, a decorated Marine from the Vietnam War, as well as a celebrated football star himself at OSU. John has made it his life's mission to reach as many people as he can for Jesus Christ. Much of his ministry was behind the Iron Curtain during Communist Russia's reign. He has written a book titled, Radical Trust, in which he recounts the eagerness with which new Believers in foreign countries embrace the Gospel; and they possess a great enthusiasm and desire to share it with others. They are vocal about what Jesus means to them.
We, here in the United States, seem to be comfortable to sit in our churches, safe in our salvation. We aren't vigorous about our faith, and don't publicly reach out to the lost. When was the last time you engaged in a conversation with a new acquaintance about God? Somehow, we have become unwilling to risk even embarrassment or public ridicule to proclaim Jesus Christ, while Believers in China, Syria, Iran, Nigeria, and Egypt are risking their lives! They know that God has one agenda, and that agenda is His Son, Jesus Christ. And the Son's agenda is, has always been, and will be until He returns, to reach the Lost.
As Mr. Maisel so eloquently stated in his sermon, "God has placed each of us where we are with Divine and Strategic importance. It is no accident that you are where you are.... And anytime God asks us to do something, He plans on getting involved in the process."
So I would have advised Tim Tebow to not be afraid. Yes, Tim, God has given you a great platform to share your faith. And the eyes of this country (if not the world) would have been upon you, had you chosen to appear in Dallas and speak on behalf of Christ. You see, it should never have been about you or Pastor Jeffress --- it should have been about Jesus!
But you decided to play it safe. Apparently, you didn't have the "radical trust" in Jesus that He would be involved in that occasion. You forgot to factor Him into the equation. By choosing the comfortable way out, and avoiding the risk, I believe that you missed a great opportunity to show what it means to have the courage of your faith. Sadly, I am disappointed.
1 Corinthians 16:12-14 "Now about our brother Apollos—I urged him to visit you with the other believers, but he was not willing to go right now. He will see you later when he has the opportunity. Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love."