As former NFL star Tim Tebow gears up for the release of the film "Run the Race," he's encouraging the next generation to find their identity in Christ in today's social media-obsessed world.
"Young people are getting pulled in so many directions, and they're trying to figure out, 'What is success? What is meaning? What do I do? What's my calling?' All of these questions," Tebow told The Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview." And so many times fear, doubt, and the unknown can creep in and it can ask all these questions."
But to run the race of life in a God-glorifying way, young people need to have a proper understanding of identity, success, and significance, Tebow explained.
"The world is going to tell you that it's about your social media followers. It's going to tell you it's about how popular you are. It's going to tell you it's about how many likes you get when you post something. And I'm going to tell you that that truly doesn't matter," he said. "What matters is that there's a God that desperately loves you and He wants to know you and there is a purpose and a reason for you being here."
He referenced Ephesians 2:10, which states: "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
"You are His poem. You're His masterpiece. He loves you and He has a great plan for your life," Tebow emphasized. "You matter. Before you were ever born, He wrote that poem about your life for good works for you to accomplish. And I want to encourage people that there is something special out there for them, that the God of this universe loves them so much that He has something special in store for them."
"So keep looking to Him, the author and perfecter of our faith," he concluded. "That's how we can keep our eyes focused on running the right race."
Tebow, alongside his brother Robby, are executive producers of the upcoming film "Run the Race." Coming to theaters Feb. 22, the film shows what's possible when you run to — instead of from — the overwhelming love of God.
"Run the Race" tells the story of Zach and David Truett, two brothers who, despite their differences, learn from one another and support each other as their individual paths to God unfold.
Zach, an All-State athlete, finds his identity on the football field as he battles his own struggles stemming from the death of his mother and his father's abandonment and continued alcoholism. In turn, David works long hours at the local grocery store to provide for himself and his brother.
When Zach's dreams of earning a college scholarship are dashed due to a devastating injury, David laces up his track cleats to salvage their future. Meanwhile, Zach grows close to Ginger, a nurse at the hospital. But when yet another tragedy strikes, the boys must rely on one another and decide if the Christian faith they were taught as children is real.
Running the race of life, Tebow said, means there's a finish line -- but the goal isn't winning or taking first place. Rather, it means living a life of significance -- and that's defined by God.
"'Making it' changes when you know God," he said. "Knowing God means okay, it's not just about what the world says. It's not just about material things. It's not everything I thought it was. Now it changes to more purpose and meaning and significance."
The 31-year-old athlete, who recently hosted his foundation's annual "Night to Shine" program celebrating people with special needs, told GH that one way he strives to find significance in life is by helping those in need.
He shared how, when he was 15 years old, he met a young boy from the Philippines who was born with a congenital knee deformity.
"It changed my life forever because he was shunned and everyone looked at him as cursed and insignificant, so he couldn't be part of the village," he recounted. "And I knew at that moment leaving that village after praying with that young boy to put his faith in Jesus, that what I was called to do for the rest of my life was to fight for people that can't fight for themselves."
Tebow, who has played in both the NFL and MLB, told GH that he hopes the film encourages young people to "not run away from God, but run to God because He loves them like crazy."
"It might feel sometimes like you're alone and it might feel sometimes like the world is really hard," he acknowledged. "But there is a God that loves you so much and He wants to know you and He wants to have a personal, intimate relationship with you."
"Run the Race" also stars Mykelti Williamson (FENCES, FORREST GUMP), Frances Fisher (TITANIC, UNFORGIVEN), Tanner Stine (NCIS), Evan Hofer (Kickin' It), and Kelsey Reinhardt (Transparent). For more information, visit RunTheRaceMovie.com.