This post is not to hate on Tebow. I am thrilled that a devout Christian is getting this much publicity and acknowledgement. I am happy for him and he is really FUN to watch. This post is about the Christian response to him.
After yesterday's game Facebook was little up with chants, accolades, and support for Tebow. Here are a couple of samples I read, "Talk about the favor of God." "I love listening to these sports commentators trying to explain what's going on with Tim Tebow...Let me break it down for all you football folks--it's JESUS!!"
I am sure if I had more friends on FB I could get similar Tebow posts. On the Today Show Tebow was referred to as "God's Quarterback." After these comments and the talk around his faith I'm a little hesitant on linking the success of an overpaid sports player with the God Almighty. What will happen if the Broncos start to lose? What happens when Tebow doesn't pull it out at the end of the game? What does this say about the faithful Christians who were playing against Tebow these last six games? Does he have more 'favor' with God than they do? Does this mean God's power doesn't exist?
There have been other religious NFL players but have they seen the same type of treatment? Reggie White, the Minister of Defense, had a stellar football career and was a leader in a couple of churches before his untimely death the day after Christmas in 2004. Tony Dungy, Kurt Warner, Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith, Chris Carter, Mike Singletary, and even more (see a complete list of Team Jesus here) have all had a deep faith in Jesus Christ, but I don't remember the popular culture stating that their success was because of God's favor.
I'm proud when those in the limelight take a moment to thank God for how wonderful their life is. Whether it is during an acceptance speech at an awards show or after a big play during a game. We need to give thanks to God who gives us everything we have in life. But to say the Broncos are winning because the have God on their side is slippery theology. It starts to head into the ideas and thinking of the Prosperity Gospel. Those who link our personal success with our relationship with God. The better our relationship the more we will succeed and the richer we will be.
If we are going to claim who side God is on we need to look beyond the NFL, beyond sports, beyond ourselves. Desmond Tutu said it best in an article in TIME, "God is not evenhanded. God is biased, horribly in favor of the weak. The minute an injustce is perpretrated, God is going to be on the side of the one who is being clobbered." God is on the side of the poor, the weak, the orphaned, the oppressed, and the helpless. I really don't think God cares if the Broncos make it to the playoffs or win the next three. If we want to truly see God's favor let us look at the ashes of humanity and see who God has pulled up from there.
Tebow is fun to watch and I wish Cam Newton would learn a thing or two about how to close a game from him. But when we place the face of Christianity on an individual who is not Christ himself, we will only be lead to be disappointed.