By Dale Losch, Crossworld President
| Tim Tebow has become the most talked-about man in America. He has orchestrated a string of eleventh-hour, eye-popping, heart-stopping come-back wins the likes of which the NFL has never seen. CNN quotes Dustin Cohn, chief marketing officer for Jockey (the underwear people), as saying: “He is the hottest athlete in the country today. He’s trending among elite celebrity status.”
Tebow first garnered national attention three years ago when, as the Heisman trophy winning quarterback for the University of Florida, he was censored for putting John 3:16 in tiny letters on his eye black. Since then “Tebowing” has become synonymous with spontaneous prayer, and the Christian witness of this young athlete has gone around the world.
But on Sunday, Jan. 8, in the Broncos’ wildcard defeat of the strongly favored Pittsburgh Steelers, Tebow’s message was written not in the eye black but in the NFL record books when he passed for 316 yards against the Steelers and set an NFL playoff record with 31.6 yards per completion. Whether or not there was any divine intervention in those statistics, one thing is clear: Tim Tebow has drawn the attention of the world to the gospel message in what most would say is a very positive way.
But there’s another famous figure who stands in stark contrast to Tebow. His name is Rollen Stewart. Most would not recognize his name as much as they would his rainbow-colored afro wig and the John 3:16 sign he carried or wore at major sporting and cultural events. Millions of people around the world have seen the “John 3:16 witness” of this man seated squarely in the stands behind home plate. But what became of this man’s witness? According to CNN reporter Eric Marrapodi, “Stewart grew increasingly fanatical about his crusade. In 1992 he took a maid hostage with a loaded gun at a Los Angeles hotel, demanding a national press conference to proclaim his new message that the end of the world was near.” A SWAT team eventually freed the woman, but the damage to Stewart’s message was already done. The following year he was convicted of hostage taking and he is still serving 3 life sentences in prison.
Tim Tebow and Rollen Stewart represent two very different approaches to the gospel mandate given to us by the Lord Jesus. Tebow lives the message and proclaims it through the fabric of his life and profession. Stewart proclaimed it like a Martian from outer-space. Tebow’s very life lends credibility to the numbers 316. Sadly, Stewart’s life discredited them.
While there is much of Tebow’s story that has yet to be written, I’m thankful for what he’s written so far. He models disciple-making where life happens and encourages all of us that you don’t have to change jobs to change the world.