|Tim Tebow “Tebowing”|
I thought I would never write a post about God, football and Tim Tebow. I feel like this blog is an oasis from such debates. Last night, after my facebook and twitter were inundated with comments about God and Football and Tim Tebow, I watched a debate spark up around me as I stayed silent. This was not my fight. This was not my argument. I was going to keep my mouth shut. I watched as people argued about how God doesn’t care about football, how Tim Tebow is more of a show than a Christian, and how 316 yards in a game definitely could not be from God. I stayed silent. It wasn’t my debate.
Then, as I began a conversation with my husband, I was SLAMMED with a realization. This is my debate. I have grown up around football. I watched my brother play, my sister cheer and my husband coach. My husband is a Christian. He is also a coach for a team playing tonight in the BCS National Championship game. God and football go hand-in-hand for him, since football is his job and his job is his calling from God. So yeah, I think this might be my debate. Not to mention I can throw a pretty solid spiral. ;-).
I love football as much as any girl can. I love God more. But just because I love God more than football, does not mean God doesn’t care about football. I get it. I get why people feel like football is a waste of God’s time. Football, when used as an idol, is bad. Football, when an addiction, is bad. Football, when ruling one’s attitude, is bad. Football, when more important to one’s life than God, is bad. Football, when a distraction from God, is bad. But we all have to acknowledge one way that football is good, amazing even. Football is a big, fat, open pathway into the hearts and minds of many children, teens, and adults.
Most important to me in the previous statement is children. Children are super impressionable. If children see an amazing athlete score a touchdown or make a great tackle and then promptly jump up and strut around pointing to himself, children will think this is acceptable behavior. When children watch a man bow down on one knee and point to the sky after accomplishing a great feat, children will think this is acceptable behavior. There are too few role models in the world today who are so vocal about their faith, their name becomes synonymous with an act of respect for God.
If I have learned anything from my husband’s time coaching in a national championship caliber program, it’s that football has power. I have watched young boys from many different backgrounds dream big about how football could change their lives. One perk of my husband’s job this season landed us with sideline passes during warm-ups, meaning we were able to stand on the field prior to games.
Before one of the larger SEC rival games I was standing next to a young boy, probably 8 to 10 years old. There were tons of people on the field, mostly huge, adult-size people. The child was happy to be on the sideline, but was stuck behind two rows of adults and could not see any of the players suited up and practicing. I gently guided him through the crowd, placing him at the front where he could watch the players run just feet in front of him. His dad stayed back and watched his son through the crowd. As his son was patted on the head and held a short conversation with a rather famous player, the boy looked up at me and his face flooded with joy. I turned around to look for the boy’s dad and found him crying. He mouthed the words, “Thank you.”
That little boy will remember his interaction with a soon-to-be NFL player forever. Whatever that player said to him will be in the boy’s head forever. Tell me again football doesn’t matter to God. Any opportunity to glorify God matters to God.
The sports industry is an industry the devil currently takes pride in. I can think of few industries with open access to the minds and hearts of children that also revolve around beer, drunken fights, sex, cussing, self-inflation and bigotry. Don’t you see? The devil loves football. The devil loves it when players grab their crotches and dance around bringing all the attention to themselves. The devil loves it when players talk smack to each other and tear each other down. The devil loves it when the camera man has his camera pointed up a cheerleader’s skirt. The devil loves it when people get thrown in jail for a drunken tailgate fight. The devil loves it when people think God doesn’t care about football. Because when Christians think God doesn’t care about football, everyone thinks God doesn’t care about football, and the devil tightens his grip on the sport, solidifying easy access into the hearts and minds of millions. The more we remove God’s presence from football, the more we allow the devil to control the sport.
Why would we ever believe God has removed Himself from a part of this life? Don’t we believe God loves everyone, even when WE turn our back on HIM? So why, when someone is bringing positive, God-centered attention to a sport, do we say HE has no part in it?
I have never seen any celebrity live as openly for God as does Tim Tebow. Not anyone in politics, not anyone in sports, not anyone on television, not anyone in movies, not anyone with his level of publicity. Not only does Tim Tebow live for God, he makes sure everyone knows about it. He makes sure everyone knows God is the reason for his success. Because of this, Tim Tebow has become a HUGE topic of conversation, and not just in the sports world. The other night I saw a round table discussion about Tim Tebow on ESPN and flipped the channel only to find Tim Tebow also a topic on E! news. E! NEWS! The news that also talks about plastic surgery and skinny is best and celebrity scandals and playboy and sex. Tim Tebow was featured on E! News and they talked about “Tebowing” and his love for God. I’d call that a huge God win. I’d also call that a GOD CARES moment.
Tim Tebow living for God does not mean God will ensure Tebow always wins. When you live for God do you always win? I certainly have my fair share of losses. Tim Tebow will have his fair share of losses as well. If anything, living so blatantly for God will make his path of honest Christianity more difficult to follow.
Tim Tebow used to place “John 3:16” on his cheeks for games. So what if Tim happens to throw for 316 yards in a playoff game against one of the best defenses in the NFL? A yard is only three feet people. It would have been just as impressive for him to throw for 315 or 317 yards. But he didn’t throw for 315 or 317. He threw for 316. And if there’s anything I have to say about that, it’s: 316 is one more reason supporting God’s presence in football. God could have easily held Tim to one less yard so people could not make the connection to his favorite verse. Even if throwing for 316 yards was a fluke accident, the point is:
Now the world isn’t just talking about how Tebow loves God, the world is also talking about John 3:16.
Which means the people in the world who don’t know about John 3:16 are now googling the verse to see what it says. Does God want people to read the Bible? Yes. Does God want people to know He sent His son to die for them to have eternal life? Yes. Is that what John 3:16 says? Yes.
Why do we continually take credit away from God? He is omnipotent and omniscient. If He wanted to make Tim Tebow throw for 316 yards, He could do it. Coincidence or not, Tebow throwing for 316 yards got people to read the Bible. So if God didn’t orchestrate Tebow throwing for exactly 316 yards, the devil certainly would have made sure it didn’t happen.
I saw many comments about football and God on social media last night, but the following twisted the gears in my mind the most:
“So God’s busy altering the outcome of a football game when 30,000 children died from preventable disease today? Got it.”
Does God have to choose between which children He cares about in the world?
Can God not affect more than one area of this world at a time?
Does God care about one lost child more than another?
Just because God is busy convicting people to serve orphaned children in Africa, doesn’t mean He is ignoring the lost children of the world who are sitting glued to their TV screens watching American football, dreaming of being just like the men they see on the screen.
As humans, it is difficult for us to understand that God has the infinite ability to care fully and completely about all of His children simultaneously. The immensity of His care and love for His children, meaning the whole of humanity, is beyond our human comprehension.
Tebow reminds me of a children’s song. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. That’s exactly what Tebow is doing. Letting his light shine.
Keep up the good work, Tebow. May we all live as blatantly obvious lives for Christ as you.
Just in case you wanted to hear what goes on inside of Tebow’s world while playing a game, here is a link to a powerful example of how if we invite Him, God can be present with us anywhere.
**CNN’s Belief Blog posted on Monday morning:
“Early Monday morning, the top item on Google Trends hot searches is John 3 16, the passage from the bible that reads:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The number two and three searched terms on Google? Tebow and Tim Tebow.”
— God certainly cares about orchestrating a situation to bring about that kind of awareness. Notice Tebow is not first here. God is.
**A quote from Tebow in a 11/22/2010 interview with Skip Bayless from ESPN. Found via Nathan Busenitz.