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Examining the Gospel, Tebow and success

Now that Tim Tebow's team has lost it's time to take a theological look at “Tebowing.” For those unfamiliar with the term, it is a posture of prayer used after a successful play, made popular by the Denver Broncos's quarterback Tim Tebow. It became a topic of debate as he and his team won a series of games in the last second.

Tebow, to his credit, has not claimed that God has intervened and given him his last-minute victories. But that has not stopped others from making that claim. People are mad at the young Tebow for his public prayer. Charles Barkley threw a long, long bomb of his own, calling Tebow a “national nightmare,” as if having a young evangelical praying on the sideline was a larger horror than having 15 million people still looking for work. There are many who are frustrated with Tebow for not taking advantage of all the girls, cars and partying that comes with stardom. On the other hand, many hold up the last-minute antics of Tebow on the brutal football field as proof of God's power. Tebow's success, and not his faith, is what is admired and held up as the power of the Christian God.

So, did God intervene and give the Broncos victory over its opponents? If so, why not intervene earlier? Does God really like the theatrics of a last-minute win? Would not a blowout win by the Broncos, with Tebow throwing for 800 yards, be just as effective as a last-second comeback? Of course these question lead to more uncomfortable ones, like why is God concerned with football games when many in Thailand and Malaysia are fighting floods? Now that Tebow and his Broncos have lost, does this prove God's ultimate powerlessness? These are questions of theology. They are also flawed in terms of Christian theology. They actually reveal not the God of Jesus, but show the idols of our culture.

The only reason we are talking about a football quarterback is because he was succeeding. His team had more points than his opponent's at the end of a game and Tebow happens to pray and give thanks for playing the game. We admire him because he wins by our standards and by the rules of our game. Now, Jesus, within the same rules of our world, was an actual failure. Jesus lost his life humiliated in a death common to criminals and traitors, abandoned by those who followed him and became no political leader. Throughout his ministry most of his followers had trouble understanding what he was doing. Three times he rejected the offer of success by Satan — he same success we would jump to accept. Who would not want their desires met, riches and powers and the power of the miraculous? Yet Jesus was after something bigger than success. He was out to be with us as friend and companion.

Jesus is Emanuel, God with us. God exposes our idols. We Americans have a fondness of keeping score, of valuing success and loving winners. God loves sinners. Here is the questions for all those who see Tebow's winning ways as proof of God's power: what happens now that Tebow has lost? Christians know God loves the football star despite his winning or losing, despite his walking the straight and narrow, and God will be with the young Tebow regardless of the final score. God does not measure us the way we measure each other. Many of us define life like a Hollywood movie; in the end everything workouts in a happy ending without suffering, without the cross. Without the cross, what's the chance of resurrection?God defines us in life, through our life defined by the cross and resurrection of Jesus.God is with us even when we lose, especially when we lose.

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5 comments

  1. It is nice to see people of faith expressing gratitue to God and remembering Him in the time of joy and happiness but also in the time of grief and sorrow.

  2. Lace Marie Williams-Tinajero

    Ernesto, you raise some thought-provoking points on what Americans tend to value and worship, and that despite our short-sightedness and short-lived victories, where God cannot be contained, God still comes to be with us. Well thought out piece.

  3. You definitely raise some good questions here Tito. Thank you!

  4. Great piece! I like Tebow, but all the clamor was really over the top, especially when I thought God’s team was really the Green Bay Packers!

  5. Great article, many excellent points, and I love the line “Does God really like the theatrics of a last-minute win?”

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