When we are disappointed or rejected, our natural reaction is to, well, react. Often in negative ways, we lash out to cover, hide or displace our emotions. It hurts to be hurt by others. If we let them, our defenses slowly grow until there is an edge to all of our thinkings. We cannot help but be suspicious because of some past or lingering wound.
What surprises me the most about football player Tim Tebow’s religious demonstrations is the public’s reaction toward and about him.
I’m late in learning about him and his religious beliefs so it was easy to catch up with all the stories and television profiles about him online. The reaction so easily and quickly turned into sarcasm and jaded jokes that I started to think more about those reacting rather then the actor.
I think that his beliefs are secondary to the cultural story that so quickly showed disdain and shallow dismissal of a young man’s sincerity. That is what I want to hold on to about this young man and wish to remember about him – he is sincere in what he is doing.
As a Catholic, “John 3:16” and his other religious gestures do not speak to me. What affects me the most is his genuineness. Will I some day be fooled if he is not who he says he is? Will I one day be judgmental because he didn’t live up to what he professes? I don’t even know this guy but we all talk about him as though he’s a close friend of ours. What if he fails us in some way?
The Heart of the Matter
I believe that’s where the disappointment and rejection come to haunt us. We were fooled. As the rock group “The Who” sings, “I Won’t Get Fooled Again.” We’ll guarantee it through the cynical walls that we will build, the suspicious bushes that will surround our minds and the locked deadened doors that lead to our hearts. We will ensure that sincerity of this type does not effect or touches our homes again. It’s too painful. It’s too risky. It’s too much of living life.
One spiritual writer said, that “coming into contact with a genuinely good man or a good woman causes in other people something that transcends the realm of thought, a veritable instance of the heart getting back its oxygen. These men and women realize that they are getting back something that is essential to their human life.” These people are triggering, once again, their own human heart through a witness of goodness in someone else. The writer continues, of course, by saying that the source of this goodness is not the person but Jesus Christ. (I like to think that it’s a partnership between us and Jesus and not just him illuminating us; after all, it takes two to tango.)
People like Tebow come and go in our lives but what remains is the remnant of someone authentic, something that genuinely represents the best of humanity and its hope.
Not Tebow, but Us
Tim Tebow cannot depress us back to our jaded ways if some day we discover he has two wives, a mistress and three homes.
Our culture has, unfortunately, dismissed Tebow’s sincerity. It will crucify him (pun intended) if he fails and resurrect him (again, intended) when sponsors return to badge his jersey.
And, all the time we’ve missed the attempt toward goodness. We’ve avoided the heavenly temptation to renew our our hearts and souls. We resort to cheap comic jokes that receive a momentary, swallow laugh from an audience that wishes to not be hurt again.