Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tim Tebow's Still an Example - Does the Church Still Care?

"I would like to thank Mr. Kraft, Coach Belichick, Coach McDaniels and the entire Patriots organization for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a classy organization. I pray for nothing but the best for you all. I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback." 2 Corinthians 12:9: And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient...

Tim Tebow's Tweet upon release from the New England Patriots

And with these words former NFL Tim Tebow's preseason stint with the New England Patriots comes to an otherwise inglorious end. One more team in the National Football League deemed him inadequate to fulfill their needs, even as a back up quarterback.

And that's a shame.

What's been clear is that what Tebow lacks in skills and talent, he made up in heart and determination. He still has heart and determination...even in adversity.

Tim Tebow came into the NFL, straight from a sterling collegiate football career that included a Heisman Trophy and a national championship. But questions about his ability to translate college success into professional glory abounded. The word was, he was just not good enough.

But Tebow was a man of faith. And as a Denver Bronco his faith appeared to just the thing to help him beat the odds. When given the opportunity, Tebow led the Broncos to a number of improbable victories, including a playoff win. In spite of his deficiencies, he appeared to be a winner. And not surprisingly there were Christians who latched on to him as if he was a metaphor for the eventual triumph of the unsuccesssful.
Pictures, both sincere and taunting, of Tim Tebow kneeling on the sidelines, in the end zone, praying in gratitude, made the pages of magazine covers and articles and the faithful suggested that you don't need to be talented or even competent, all you need is faith in God. Instead, what Tebow proved is something Rick Warren, pastor of the mega church Saddleback church wrote in the little acclaimed 'The Purpose Driven Church', 'Consecrated incompetence is incompetence still.'

Read, for instance, these words written by such an adherent, "Does God care if Tim Tebow wins?  Hello!  God CREATED football, the grass they run, throw, catch and tackle upon, the cow that died so there would be leather for the ball and he CREATED the players and GIFTED them with their talent.  He INSPIRED the coaches so they could create plays.  He BLESSED team owners so they could afford to own stadiums, and employ all the coaches, players, and personnel it takes to fill them.  He PLANNED ALL of this. So yes, for whatever reason, God did something awe inspiring with Tim Tebow.  Yes, He cares if Tebow wins."

This was one of the more tame peons of 'support'.

Look, I too am a man of faith and I believe that God cares about you and me and Tim Tebow. But some 18 months ago, Tebow was held up as almost a verifier of the Christian faith. Christians who seemed to need someone to point to someone and say, 'See, if you only believe, you can do great things. You need talent. You don't need technique, you don't need to follow the rules. All you need to do is believe!" I believe there are some limited circumstances in which those things have some truth. But all Christians aren't the exceptions to the rules.

At CitySquare, we have prospective supporters who ask, 'Where is the ministry?' In other words where is the place or program where you preach the Gospel to the poor and homeless? The facts are, many of the overwhelming surprising number, have faith. They don't have money, or a decent job, or a place to live. But they daily move throughout their lives doing what it takes to survive and in many cases, having accepted their circumstances and becoming a help to others. They will tell you about Jesus. And they will let you know that 'without Him I wouldn't be here.'

What those prospective supporters say, without saying it, is that a sign of 'being born again' is success. Success measured even in the simplest terms: a place to stay; enough food to eat; a job. If 'these people' had faith, they would have these things. And for them, it's antithetical to the faith to believe that you can provide food, healthcare, shelter or a job and not preach to them before, during or after.

Yet here is Tim Tebow, who has now been told by the third team in 18-19 months, you're not good enough to be a NFL quarterback. Up until a few months ago, churches wanted him to speak in worship. They wanted to hold him up as an example to their youth. An encourager to struggling parents: 'See, if you raise your child to be a Christian, he too, she too, can be successful.'

How many invitations will he receive now?

As I said before, it's a shame.

Its a shame because I think Tebow is not only a Christian, but one of the best examples of one. Not because he's an athlete, but because he is showing how to handle disappointment with class, with dignity and maturity. He is neither cursing his fate, nor is he exhibiting a Polyannish everything will be all right attitude. He's determined to pursue his dream, even though it hasn't worked out for him. Should Tebow ever become a professional QB, its this attitude that will make him a winner.And right now, it doesn't appear that Christians really value this lesson. It's unfortunate, because more people will be where he is now, than will ever hoist the equivalent of a Lombardi Trophy.

Tebow was, for awhile, a 'hero' to Christians who believe fame and material success is a sign of God's Favor. They forget that the Love of God isn't dependent upon earthly success, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). 

We aren't successful in God's Kingdom because we succeeded, but because He succeeded!
There's a huge difference between what the Bible says about faith and 'success' and what we believe to be based on our 21st Century nationalistic filter. 

 But one thing's for sure, whatever happens to Tim Tebow, we're missing out on a great lesson!

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