It is alarming to see how dramatically American society is fracturing and polarizing. I believe this is happening around the world, too, which is why I’ve named it one of “7 Global Currents” that are reshaping missions and churches, home and abroad.
This polarization is evident in all areas of culture — politics, religion, philosophy, and even sports. I recently read an article which named Tim Tebow –he of the Heisman Trophy, NCAA championship, and game-winning drives — as one of America’s most divisive athletes. Others on the list included Michael Vick, Barry Bonds, Pete Rose, and O.J. Simpson – all who have been accused or convicted of serious or even criminal misdeeds. And Tebow’s crime? It’s scribbling Bible verses on his eyeblack during college years and openly spouting Jesus’ name whenever he’s interviewed. Unfortunately, that is enough to polarize masses. Whether in traditionally controversial areas like religion and politics, or formerly innocuous areas like food (slow or fast food?), stores (big box or local?), and clothing (sweatshops or fair wage?), it seems that all words are fighting words.
For Christians, it’s increasingly difficult to practice Mediation in a harsh, accusatory, villainizing world. Tebow himself seems to be maturing. During a recent interview after his trade to the New York Jets, he demurred when asked about his faith, pointing out that the event at hand was a football transaction. Tebow is maturing into what Gordon College President Michael Lindsay calls a “cosmopolitan Christian” — one who understands the importance of building bridges and speaks more about what he’s for than what he’s against. That’s a good thing for Tebow and for the Christian community. In the coming years, Christians in America and around the world will need to find inclusive and gracious ways to give voice to what we believe. We hold to exclusive Truth claims, and we know that those Truths will always be offensive to some. But we should work hard, as Jesus did, to pursue reconciled relationships and loving dialogue…and hope it never gets to ultimatums and accusations.