I am sorry, but I can't resist. The matchup this past weekend between Tim Tebow, the self-appointed boy-prophet of the Denver Broncos football team, and Tom Brady, long time play-boy quarterback of the New England Patriots, is too tantalizing to pass up. Commenting on this matchup is especially interesting this weekend since the Broncos lost to the Patriots in a very lopsided, near rout, in a game whose score was 45-10.
Also, every other religious figure in the country has thus far weighed in on Tim Tebow and his faith, and his demonstrative expression of that faith, in every single press conference available to him. The list of religious commentators of Tim Tebow, at this point, includes, among others, Pat Robertson, Joel Ostein, Rick Warren, Joyce Meyers and John Hagee. So, here is my own take on Tim Tebow, be it ever so much less elevated than my other colleagues in ministry:
The Sun Shines on both Tim Tebow and Tom Brady
I have, like everyone of good conscience, enjoyed a few aspects of Tim Tebow's national religious attention, but struggled with many more of them. First, the good things about it all. In a world of NFL superstars, where football players often make more money in one year than some third world countries gross in annual GDP, Tim Tebow has been a refreshing voice and face. It requires a kind of deep courage to stand against the flash bulbs of fame and fortune, and smile week in and week out, whether winning or losing, and declare one's faith in God. Well done, Tim! The attention that Tim has given to "family's in need" has been admirable. Tim Tebow, whether he continues in his football career or not after this season, will go down as a kind of modern day Eric Liddell (famed sprinter from the movie Chariots of Fire) - athlete/Christian. Every time Tim; "ran, he felt the Lord's pleasure."
The more concerning aspects of the Tebow attention have been the assumptions that the world has made about Christianity in general. After watching Tim Tebow's ham handed, south pawed throw, in the final minutes of a game last week, I heard one observer say, "Well, maybe there really is something about this God." The difficulty is that what we believe as Christ followers, in the Reformed tradition at least, is that; "God makes his sun to shine on the righteous and the unrighteous, and God sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matt: 5:43-48). Realizing that Tim Tebow and Tom Brady have become archetypes of good and evil, and that, of course, both men have the capacity for both good and evil (aka: Tim Tebow is both righteous and unrighteous, just like all of us, and that Tom Brady is both righteous and unrighteous, just like all of us), we might be prone to rephrase Jesus' dictum in this way;
"God makes the sun to shine on Tim Tebow and Tom Brady, and God makes his rain to fall on Tim Tebow and Tom Brady."
In other words, the evidence of God's grace and light and truth and provision and favor are not always born out in the appearances of the lives of God's followers. When the Apostle Paul was nearly killed by his followers in Lystra and Derbe, it did not appear that God was with him. When Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for her faith, there was nobody around shouting, "Well, maybe there really is something about this God." Most of the time, when God acts on our behalf, most of the rest of the world would not interpret those actions as a sign of God's providence. This is not to say that God does not notice or appreciate our righteousness, but rather that the way God bestows His approval and appreciation of that righteousness is not always in the context of a "win."
Very often, actually, I have found that God bestows his approval and love and grace in me through one of my losses. Like Paul, God has begun to make me, "more perfect through my weaknesses."
The deeper and more intriguing question, I suspect for our friend Tim Tebow will be how God loves Tim even when he does not win. The more probing point will be how God works in Tim's life even when his season comes to an abrupt end, on a cold grid-iron in the bosom of New England. Personally, I will pray that this next season of faith for Tebow will be as rich as the last.
All for Now,