I now tread where every human should fear to go. So, why go there? I tire of absolutist statements concerning Tim Tebow, God, and football games. That is probably not a very good motivation, but hopefully something positive will arise–maybe even a good conversation. (Or, maybe I just want more traffic at my website? That is a sobering thought. )
Does God care anything about football games? Yes and No.
Yes….God delights in play. Play is part of God’s intent for humanity. All work and no play is workaholism. God’s creatures play–even the Leviathan, the great sea monster, plays in the ocean (Psalm 104:26). God delights in humanity’s play. Sport is part of the joy of life.
No…God, I imagine (though how could I ever really know), is not a fan, that is, God does not root for one side or another in the sense that God’s mood is affected by wins and loses. God is not a Pittsburgh fan that grieves their loss nor is he a Bronco fan that rejoices in the defeat of the Steelers.
Ultimately, it seems to me God is not interested in games but in people. Interested in people, can not God gift some people with success on particular occasions?
This is not a gift based on some kind of prosperity gospel, that is, “Tim Tebow is a believer…therefore he will succeed.” Rather, it is a gift based on grace, and God gifts many people with success who do not have a Christian bone in their body. God gives wealth and empowers rulers.
When God gifts people with success–a gift that is cooperatively received by those so gifted–God holds them accountable. What will they do with that success? God tests the wealthy.
What is seemingly impressive about Tim Tebow is that (1) he gives thanks for his success and recognizes it as a gift, (2) he does not blame God for his failures, and (3) he is committed to using that success for the growth of the kingdom of God.
Perhaps the gift of success that God has given Tebow–however long-lasting or short-lived it is (and it may be very short-lived, like, 1/2 a season)–is something that is possibly kingdom-affirming and kingdom-promoting. Perhaps God’s gift to Tebow will result in feeding the hungry, healing the sick and saving some children from death.
Rachel Held Evans tweeted: “So God’s busy altering the outcome of a football game when 30,000 children died from preventable disease today? Got it.”
I find that tweet significantly short-sighted. That God is too small. Why is one mutually exclusive of the other? Could it be that the gift of success is one of God’s means for healing some of these children–one means among many that God is now using or preparing. Perhaps God is even now preparing a person whose financial success will enable funding a cure for cancer, or drilling wells in Africa, or…..other kingdom work.
Paul does say “give thanks in everything”…..including our play as well as our work. God gives success, but also God gives failures (think about Job for a moment). In both God is looking for witnesses to the reign of God in the world.
I don’t think Tebow wins because God is a Broncos fan or even that Tebow is one of God’s favorites. But perhaps Tebow’s success (and our own too) is something God enables for the sake of the kingdom of God. And there will be days when Tebow will not succeed and God will be good with that since even Tebow’s failures (and ours as well) will be opportunities for bearing witness to the kingdom of God.
The danger for Tim Tebow (as it is in everyone’s success) is the potential for pride and the revelation that everyone has clay feet, even Tim Tebow (and certainly I do).
The kingdom of God, of course, does not depend on anyone. God will usher in his kingdom by whatever means God desires.
Can God use a football game for the sake of his kingdom? Absolutely. To think otherwise is to remove God from the daily moments of our lives. That God is too small.
Is Tim Tebow God’s favorite and thus he will win the Super Bowl this year? There is no evidence that God’s favorites win the Super Bowl, and I don’t think Tim is any more one of God’s favorite than I am. We are both loved–as are all the dying children in the world–by God.
God loves play but God loves play because God loves people. God is not a football fan; God is a Tebow fan….and a John Mark Hicks fan…and your fan as well. God is especially fond of each of us.