And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. 6But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly. 7But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. …Mt 6:5-7
Thank you fellow Christians. Thank you for ruining a promising career; for once again demonstrating to the world that we too, are much like the world, seizing credit here on earth – cha ching- and foregoing those promised heavenly awards. Thank you for showing the world, blind, stupid, described at times as children of darkness, that we, the children of light are as lost and as wayward as those we try to convert. Thank you for overestimating our level of persecution in America. Thank you for inviting the wrath of the God we stand up and fight for. Let’s take America back for Jesus, because, obviously, according to us, Jesus was unable to keep it for himself. And let’s start this new crusade to turn the circus of Rome into a Christian circus of Rome. Rather than being essentially part of, yet distinct from this world of corruption, let us take the corrupt things of the world and white wash the sepulcher with the veneer of holiness; after all, we are American Christians and have the right to Christian Football, Christian Spy Movies, Christian Pornography, and Christian Rock and Roll.
One should not blame Mr. Tebow for the whirlwind of controversy that surrounds him. He is, after all, simply openly communicating his faith, albeit in the fiery, immature way a young Christian feels obligated to do. I was once that brash person who caught fire at a glimpse of the truth and wanted everyone to feel the joy I had. That period of a young Christian’s life should be tolerated, encouraged even, because eventually they will settle into a long period of peace in the knowledge of their Christ, where words play little part in the witness of this truth- the Truth is communicated more in deeds borne out of a confidence that what one believes about the universe is, indeed, true. This does not diminish the joy.
The blame follows closely upon the cult of followers that Mr. Tebow has unwittingly and, probably, unwillingly collected. Yes! We finally have an openly Christian athlete who puts it in the face of the world. Dare I say, we finally have Christian football and a player who does what most of his followers lack the courage to do. Make it known through words, deeds, and the peace he shows that he is one of the followers of Christ in whatever stage of life his God brings him through.
There is a time to boldly correct the world with Scripture. But, more commonly, the time is for quietly standing by and demonstrating, amid the chaos, the peace that passeth all understanding. I, for one, share something in common with Mr. Tebow. But I have never found it appropriate, nor required, to communicate this point of commonality on a grand scale. I believe I can develop a much healthier and effective relationship, for instance, with a homosexual person if we never discuss his or her sexual inclinations. I would rather not know. In fact, this stance seems to be one of the calling cards of Conservative Christians – the Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell stance. But when it comes to Mr. Tebow we applaud him for openly proclaiming his virginity. For me…Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell on this point too. Afterall, the Scripture is conspicuously devoid of apostles walking around the Holy Land proclaiming, “I am a follower of Jesus and a virgin. You can be too!”
As for the open yet prayerful (according to the Scripture heading this column these are mutually exclusive by the way), celebrations that spawned the Tebow-ing phenomenon, players have been doing the kneel down prayer after touchdowns for years. And, I am afraid, Mr. Tebow, may be receiving his reward here on earth and foregoing the eternal rewards promised for those who, without fanfare, pray and give thanks where and when no one can see. But I can make no comment on the purity of his motives in this.
What I can comment on is the complete train wreck American Christians, immature and fanatical, like the world, have made of this young man’s career. What good could he have done, quietly, on the grand stage of the National Football League if he were being allowed to play? And why is he not finding a home, even with his home town football franchise? The drama, fanaticism, and hatred shown by the Cult of Tebow, in all their Hannity-esque Hatred Equals Truth brutality. And then the persecution complex is bandied about. Wake up Cult of Tebow. You are not being persecuted for your faith. You are being persecuted (if that is not too strong a word) for being obnoxious.
God makes it a point in the Scriptures to explain why he chose the nation of Israel to make His mark on the world. It was because they were small, backwards, lacked any kind of industrial skill – they were the underdog. And He used this unlikely of all people to change the world.
What if God were trying to make a point with Mr.Tebow like He did with Israel? Tebow is alone. He lacks the skill for his position, he is the most unlikely quarterback in the league to find success but through hard work, perseverance, and dare I say, faith, he had overcome. Now, because of the Cult of Tebow, he may never get that chance again and the world, once again, mocks us as Rome did in the circus.
One final word, if you don’t mind. If we as Christians enjoy football after church on Sunday, then enjoy football after church on Sunday. If it is not causing you to sin- Enjoy! We have no mandate to claim football for Christ. I imagine, Christ is less concerned about the Christian-ness of football than the Christian-ness of those who are called by his name. And besides, would anyone really enjoy a Christian Football League?
No one person would agree on all the rules, hitting too hard would be sinful, we could not keep score so as not to offend those that did not do well, our pastors would insist on being the coaches, the deacons would just have to be the quarterback and they would always change the play in the huddle, the worship leader would have to perform at half time with the choir marching around the field to “Just as I am” – all 192 verses, and the cheerleaders would be our short skirted, vamped up teenage daughters, touchdown celebrations will be over the top, timeouts would be used to pass the plate or conduct an alter call, “Sinner up the middle, down to the five, he knealt down at the goal line, no! he’s over for the soul saving touchdown!”. At least one thing would not change with the game though, the bickering between teams, the backbiting, the rancid attitudes, and the spectacle of grown men and women playing a game, trying to convince themselves, the game is life itself.