Sunday, December 9, 2012

That Tebow Thing

Now that the Broncos have finished their season, it allows me time to sit back and analyze “That Tebow Thing.” I’m a Christian. Also, as a resident of the Denver Metropolitan Area, I’m a Broncos fan — a homer. Finally, I am a Tim Tebow fan. I like him, and I root for him. My view of the world is largely analytical rather than emotional. There are even personality measurements to identify your specific view of things. We used to use those metrics to discuss teaming and understanding other’s responses to issues. But this response to Tebow leaves me a bit in the dark. I don’t see what all the fuss was/is about.

Obviously a lot of the fuss comes from Tim Tebow’s outward display of his religious beliefs, including his “self-named” prayer that he is often seen performing during football games. I don’t find that all that uncommon in the NFL. Plenty of players celebrate a success with a prayer and recognition that a blessing came from God. At the end of many games, players from both teams will gather in a circle for a final prayer of thanksgiving and praise. Football lore and coaching tactics are full of spiritual outreach to achieve maximum physical success. Heck, even Alcoholics Anonymous recognizes a higher power in their twelve-step process.

But "That Tebow Thing” seems to go much farther. I suppose I can understand the complaints from non-Christians about mixing religion and football. After all, America’s view of separation of church and state is often extended to the extreme that disallows, or at least frowns on any outward display of religiosity. And with the large number of hypocrites that take on the cloak of Christendom, who can blame them.

I’ve heard argument such as “what if Tebow was a Muslim?” and even read an article this morning about a bunch of witches making prayers for the success of the New England Patriots. It is something to think about, and I understand how some want to keep religion out of football. (And possibly football out of religion. Know any churches with big screen TVs to watch the game on? :-) )

Or, you may just not be a Broncos fan. After all there are 31 other teams to cheer for. Or, you might be one of those twelve people in the whole United States that doesn’t care about the Super Bowl. So I can understand some apathy or even antipathy toward Tebow.

Finally, you may be a Broncos fan that just doesn’t consider Tebow the best choice at quarterback. Maybe you are a Kyle Orton or Jay Cutter or even a Jake Plummer fan. Or maybe you’re a Brady Quinn fan, or you just want to see who’s available in next year’s draft and are sad that Denver’s good performance means a later draft pick. There could be lots of reasons.

So what about Tim Tebow himself? Is he a good Christian? I have no idea. I don’t know the man. He appears to be a committed Christian attempting to the best of his personal understanding to follow in Christ’s footsteps. There has been some news coverage lately about his practice of inviting someone with a serious disease to be his guest at games. That certainly seems like good behavior. And I understand the desire for role models, by definition, famous people, who would portray positive personal traits. There have been so many athletes that their personal behavior was not one you wanted to see emulated that a good role model would be a welcome change. I’m not here to judge Tebow. So I’m not certain why others are so eager to do that.

In the sermon on the mount, recorded in Matthew 6:5-8, Christ says,

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
So should Tim Tebow, a follower of Christ, not pray in public at all? Again, I’m not the one to judge. Personally I give thanks before every meal, even in a public place such as a restaurant. I hope that others will see me and think a bit about giving our Heavenly Father credit for our daily bread. Doesn’t seem hypocritical if I’m just praying to God and not showing off to the heathens around me. :-)

But each person must answer that question in his or her own hearts. I know some Christians that don’t dance or drink coffee. It is up to each person’s conscience and how the Holy Spirit leads them. (Now who is being analytical rather than emotional? I don’t know! :-) )

During Saturday’s game, when the Broncos were getting into deeper and deeper trouble as their adversaries outplayed them consistently, Facebook was filled with comments about the play. Linda’s cousin, who is a Bronco’s fan, had commented on her page about the game not going well, and one of her friends added “I like seein the broncos get their a**es handed” and “The prayers of the 12th man were answered today.” I don’t think this person is from New England nor a Pats fan. He just appears to have something against Tebow. Of course, he may have just been pulling her chain. People do tend to tease her. However, my granddaughter, who is wise much past her years, told me that inside of every joke is some truth, so saying “I’m just kidding” may not be a valid excuse. In any case, I don’t see how people can have so much dislike or even hate for someone I doubt they ever met.

On the other extreme view, I’m equally bothered by the comments from some of the pro-Tebow Christians. Another friend of family on Facebook posted a YouTube video. In that video a pastor calls Tebow “God’s Quarterback” and talks about God’s miracles on the football field. Well, I might agree that the Bronco’s success this year seemed like a miracle, but I’m not ready to credit that success to God’s holy plan. Doesn’t that assume that all the opposing teams were non-Christian, or at least “not Christian enough.” Not that I doubt that God can perform miracles, I just don’t see Tebow as the “anti-anti-Christ,” and I don’t think the Lord is pursuing a Super Bowl ring. If that were really the case, then the Broncos should not have lost.

What if you don’t live in the Denver area like I do? Are all the Christians in New Orleans, or New York, or Newark supposed to abandon their team loyalties and root for Tebow or else they are demonstrating that they are bad Christians whose life is full of crap or compromise with worldly things. Seems to me that football itself is pretty worldly. I don’t see support of Tebow as a test of faith.

No, I’m not condemning Tebow for his faith and certainly not condemning him for attempting to live that faith in his day-to-day life and occupation. If only more Christians would do that. But I’m also not bowing down to Tim or assuming it is a sign from God that the Broncos beat Pittsburg. I can, irreverently state that, if Denver had beat the Pats, then I might rethink all that miracle stuff. (That’s a joke folks; you should be laughing now.)

Tim Tebow, a good and promising football player for my home team. Those that love the Broncos ought to love Tim Tebow, although your mileage may vary. Those that have other favorite teams in the NFL, by all means cheer them on. That’s pure emotion. I was taught that at the pep rallies in high school. Root, root, root for the home team.

Tim Tebow, a good role model, apparently more concerned with living a life of faith than with becoming a millionaire or crushing the skulls of all the opposition. There are other good role models in sports and elsewhere, just as there are good examples of BAD behavior in all walks of life. Since Tebow is a public person, his faith is on display. I think he handles that spotlight pretty well for a young man less than 25 years of age. I like his positive attitude and obvious leadership skills, and recognize a lot of his religious beliefs in those attributes.

Also, as a Christian, by all means, I appreciate the positive role model of a young Christian man apparently following his heart and love for Jesus. I say “apparently,” because I don’t really know for sure, and I doubt any of you out there do either. So that makes me a Tebow fan.

But I still think football is just a game (and a business) played for fun (and money) by normally flawed human beings, albeit some very talented ones. Tim Tebow’s role with the Broncos is to lead them to victory. His role as a follower of Christ is to represent God and give him the glory. I think he does a pretty good job at both roles.

I do understand what all the fuss is about. We’re a very spoiled society who, even in this time of high unemployment and dropping wages, we like our spectacles and our entertainment. Does God belong in football? Yes, God belongs in all parts of our life. But Tebow isn’t God, and he would be the first one to tell you that. Cheer for the Broncos if you like them. Razz them if you don’t. That’s the game. That’s the fun. I would not have you discommunicated or burned at a stake either way. I’m not a big fan of pastor celebrities anyway, so having an outspoken Christian football player is really a pretty comfortable idea to me — analytically speaking. :-)

But all you folks that have made it into some kind of heavenly warfare — regardless of the side you think Tim Tebow is on — I just don’t get it. And I think the hate is ugly. That goes for you Christians and non-Christians alike. Now, don’t hate me either. I put plenty of smiley faces in the text, and I’m just the messenger. :-)

Originally written January 15, 2012.

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