by Charles Eaton
The story of Tim Tebow has been the banner story of the National Football League (NFL) this year. To those who do not follow football, Tebow is the quarterback of the Denver Broncos and a very outspoken Christian. It is not an exaggeration to say that Tebow talks about Christ more than almost anyone I have met thus far; even going as far as to sing Christian songs during his pregame warm-ups. Through wins and losses, Tebow is constantly giving credit to God. In almost every interview he gives, the first words out of his mouth are likely homage to his Creator, then a praise of thankfulness for his teammates. While there have been other outspoken Christians in the NFL (Kurt Warner, Reggie White, etc), what has captivated the nation like nothing previously seen in football, has been a penchant for winning close games in the fourth quarter despite how abysmally bad he played through the first, second, and third quarters. Tim Tebow has been winning football games he has no business winning. He has heart, to be sure, but his talent level is woefully inadequate and glaringly unpolished. Therefore, his recent playoff loss notwithstanding, I have come to an unmistakable conclusion: God was actively helping Tim Tebow win football games.
I’ll say it again.
God divinely intervened on Tim Tebow’s behalf, on multiple occasions, so the Denver Broncos would win football games. To illustrate, here is a video clip of Stephen A. Smith, Chris Carter, and Skip Bayless debating this topic after the Bronco’s miraculous comeback victory over the Chicago Bears (the first 5-6 minutes make the points well, the rest is just interesting if you want to keep watching).
For those who say God doesn’t care about football games, and He really doesn’t care about who is winning and losing football games, I offer this logical parallel: How many of us have ever prayed to God that we pass an academic test? Or perform well on a job interview? Or complete an important task on a job to our bosses’ satisfaction? I feel confident in assuming I am not the only one to have done all three, and because God is faithful, He has come through for me in clutch situations like these more times than I can count. But have we ever stopped to think about what happens as a consequence of God’s intervention in these matters on our behalf? If a test was graded on the curved (such as the LSAT [Law School Admission Test] I’m preparing to take), the good grade I receive will cost someone else a chance to earn that grade. The job offer I had no business receiving was a job someone more qualified did not get. Many times, the blessings that come in our lives will simultaneously cause someone else to miss out on what we just received. That’s how ‘haters’ are created. Bishop TD Jakes said it best when he proclaimed, “that favor ain’t fair,” and by now, I have learned to take grace and favor over justice and merit every time.
Yes, the NFL is a sport, but is it not also a job? Athletes are paid by the NFL to compete, and their paychecks are almost always directly linked to how they perform on the field. Yes, if God helps the Denver Broncos win football games, that means he has caused another team to lose, but is that any different from the people who missed a blessing due to our divinely inspired successes? Is God caring about football really that different from God caring about biology tests, business presentations, and law school applications? I don’t think so. Though, as an athlete, it offends me personally that God may come down and help the other team win. This despite how much work, sweat, and blood I put into my own training, not even to mention my own Christianity, yet I believe it is a mistake to say he wouldn’t do it if He saw good reason to do so.
Which brings me to my last point: While only God and Tebow know for sure, I honestly believe that Tebow is not trying to use God to win football games. While he may pray for victory, and give God the credit afterwards, I don’t think Tebow is trying to leverage his Christianity into favor with God on the football field. That is by far the most important thing about him. God is not mocked, and He knows the hearts of His children. Most of us have been occasionally guilty of trying to contract God into blessings. Saying such things as, “God, if you do X for me, I’ll do Y in return” or, “God, I have been returning my faithful tithe and offerings, now please open this door for me”. We try to trap God into doing what we want, forgetting that even our righteousness is as filthy rags. When I hear the passion for God in Tebow’s voice, I cannot help but think to myself he would be happy being a farm dung scraper if God was on his side. He would give God all the credit just the same. Instead, he is a NFL quarterback, following the Great Commission, and miraculously winning games. “Favor ain’t fair.”