Last Updated on March 21, 2018

I’ve never heard Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow talk about Christmas. But a few weeks back, as I was watching the controversy he sometimes attracts, I realized there was a reason for the controversy that I had never seen before. A reason that provides a powerful lesson for those of us who are trying to genuinely follow — and help our kids follow — the real “reason for the season” rather than simply being swept up in the surface holiday fun.

I should explain right up front that our family has been fans of Tim Tebow ever since one of our best friends from grad school, Nathan Whitaker, teamed up with Tebow to write his book, Through My Eyes, and came away telling us that this guy is the real deal: humble, gracious, and truly in love with Jesus. My 11 year old daughter is so impressed with a famous football star who is so overt about the faith that means so much to our family.

But it is that overt faith – the way he talks about the Lord, or bows in prayer after a touchdown play, for example — that also attracts controversy. And honestly I’ve been puzzled by that. We talk with our kids about the reality that the Bible’s claim to authority over our lives can be uncomfortable for some people, and that many simply don’t believe Jesus’ claim to be “the way, the truth and the life.” But still! You’d think a professional quarterback who openly tried to live a pure and gracious life would be something to applaud as a role model, not deride.

But then I saw this article, [] and suddenly something became clear – something that has everything to do with what Christmas is truly about.

A previous Broncos quarterback, Jake Plummer, was quoted criticizing Tebow, saying,
“I think that when he accepts the fact that we know that he loves Jesus Christ, then I think I’ll like him a little better.”

Suddenly, I realized the main problem for Plummer, and for every person who watches someone else overtly living out a life of faith that they may not personally understand. Plummer doesn’t realize that Tebow’s actions are not about showing us he loves Jesus – Tebow’s actions come because he does love Jesus, and wants to thank Him for the gifts He’s given.

Today, so many people can see people of faith as trying to “show them something” – but they miss what that “something” is. They think to themselves, Yes, yes, yes, we know you love Jesus, I get it. And they miss that what we so deeply want to do is not show them us but show them the greatness and love of our God. Somehow, we have to get the emphasis off of what we believe, and instead show them the One in whom we believe.

Christmas allows us to do that almost more than any other time of year. It is one of the few seasons when we are presented with so many natural opportunities to take that focus off of us and “our faith” – and put the focus squarely where it belongs: on a God who loves us so much that He came to earth to live and die for us. Even in our own families, if we can be purposeful about it, we can take a deep breath of calm in the middle of a crazy season and spend some moments with our kids talking about WHO Jesus is, and worshipping him as the real reason for the season.

This Christmas season, let’s ask God for eyes to see where a friend, classmate or coworker might be simply looking at our faith – and where we have the opportunity to turn their eyes to the one on whom our faith rests.

May every family know the abundant, amazing love of Jesus this Christmas season, and in the year to come!

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