Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tim Tebow

The Tim Tebow phenomenon has been interesting to observe and follow in the NFL this year. First of all, he is such a talented, clutch performer. It will be great to follow his career, and that of Cam Newton as well, comparing and contrasting the two of them. It will make for great coffee shop and bar sport's debates.

Secondly, his stats in the first Pittsburgh playoff overtime game were crazy: 316 yards passing, he averaged 31.6 yards per pass, 31.6 million fans watched, and the winning pass to Thomas was a 31.6 yard, now that is eerie. (If you're unfamiliar with John 3:16, his favorite verse, you better read it).

The most interesting dimension to observe about Tebow is, for me, his religious faith and his expression of it (there are alot of good quarterbacks in the NFL). Seldom have we seen a player more committed and expressive in his faith. For me, there are a few questions which come to mind about the whole Tebow phenomenon. They are prompted by some intriguing commentaries I have read, and by my general reflection on the Tebow effect and his religious zeal.

First is the question of the very overt, outward expression of his faith. Jesus, among much, was a quiet Carpenter. While the 'Great Commission' directs us to go out into the world and "tell" or spread the Good News, we can do this by the way in which we conduct our lives, through the actions we take. It does not have to be through symbol, word, or outward expression. I like the Quaker tradition which observes that a person can say all the right words, maintain all the proper traditions, and still lack spiritual depth. Jesus and Paul made similar observations.

Second is the question of whether we should be praying to God to win football games or to complete passes. Fran Tarkenton points out, "I have never understood why God would care who won a game between my team and another. It seemed there were many far more important things going on in the world. There are religious guys on both teams. If God gets credit for the win, does he also take blame for defeat?" For me, it is like praying to make a putt. Please. When I was an athlete in my youth, we always prayed before games. It was a prayer for safety, good sportsmanship on both sides, for strength and courage to be the best we could be, and for the ability, with God's help, to hold our heads high, whatever the outcome of the game.

Lastly, there is the whole question of, what if Tebow were of a religion other than Christianity? What if Tebow were a American Muslim, for instance? There are some in the NFL. How would our society react if during every interview, Tebow said "Insha Allah" rather than thank his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Or instead of falling to one knee and praying, Tebow pulled out a pray rug and faced Mecca? I am pretty sure, and survey's confirm, it would not be very well received.

In 1964, a young boxer named Cassius Clay announced his membership in the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Ali became an outspoken proponent of his American Muslim faith and an activist. In America, the land of diversity and supposed religious freedom, he was vilified for his religious beliefs.......his Islamic belief. Maybe it would be different now, some 45 years later. Let's hope so, but I have my doubts. The confounding question becomes, in America, do we accept freedom of religion or do we accept freedom of Christianity?

I love and revere my Christian faith. I believe in John 3:16. I also hold dear the dignity, freedom, and liberty of all of God's children to express their faith......especially in America. I wish for Tim Tebow a fabulous career. I am happy his faith is prompting thoughtful discussion about faith...... and about America.

1 comment:

  1. I remember Cassius Clay. Was it his going Muslum that brought him antipathy, or simply evading the war so publicly?

    And on Tebow.....Can it really honor God to be portrayed as someone who (apparently) ignores terrorism, injustice, depravity, mayhem worldwide, but never misses a game, eagerly tweaking for both winners and losers?


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