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Reflections : Put God in the Game or STFU
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Put God in the Game or STFU

By Ryan, Member of Delve into Jesus since 12/30/2007
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What do a football rumor, an f-bomb and a huge drive to humiliate a hero have to do with shining your light for Jesus Christ?

In the case of American football’s Heisman Trophy winner and mega-watt Christian, Tim Tebow, they illuminate how following your Lord while chasing your career goal is bound to score points and persecution.

To others, these things may highlight a few win some/lose some strategies for proclaiming one’s faith and the commitment necessary to follow Jesus’ command to win some as disciples.

Tebow hopes to parlay his college football triumphs into stardom in the National Football League (NFL). At a recent pre-draft NFL Scouting Combine, Tebow wowed evaluators with his physical prowess on-field. But allegedly, the adrenaline erupted when the whistle blew for the dreaded off-field Wonderlic exam that assesses basic skills in English and Math in a multiple choice, 12 minute format.

The media gleefully aired a rumor that Tebow suggested the group of players say a prayer before taking the test. Reportedly, another player responded with an explicative laden phrase which is more politely paraphrased by the acronym “STFU” – an expression that can always be counted on to draw chuckles from the crowd despite its boorish overuse and inappropriateness for any portion of the scouting regimen.

Given the flamboyant behavior of so many athletes, some debate whether the “F” in NFL actually stands for F*** or Felony. Regardless of the evidence to support either conclusion, I propose that the “F” in NFL could also stand for Faith and I suspect that that the “F” in the ever-blathered “STFU” is most certainly evil code for Faith when unleashed against Christians. Tebow is told to “Shut the Faith Up” more often than he earns first downs.

Shouts of throw the Christian to the lions (and not those Lions hailing form Detroit) are echoed from sports writers, fans and fellow players who have little patience for Tebow’s overt display of faith. Yet, prayer and faith have always been a part of football at all levels, as evidenced by the tradition of pre-game team prayers. And, one of the most touching moments in this full contact sport occurs when players from opposing teams gather together for prayer whenever any player is injured during a game.

As a proponent of prayer myself, and one who knows what it feels like to have a few IQ points knocked out in battle, I hope Tebow really didn’t suggest the pre-exam prayer. Unless, it was just a tension-breaking joke, and in that case I’d say humor and the ability to lampoon oneself hold the cultural potential to score big witnessing points.

As long as there are tests, there will always be prayers, but for the college educated, praying before the Wonderlic seems a bit like asking for divine guidance before undertaking a task like tying your shoes. So expectedly, the dumb jock angle for ridiculing Tebow was irresistible to his detractors.

Further embarrassment hit when Tebow’s test score was made public – just 22 correct out of a possible 50. His below average performance for a quarterback prompted speculation on whether he was even capable of reading the Bible verses that he is famous for writing in his game day eye black.

To a large and hungry audience, Tebow’s on-field interviews and photographs have spotlighted verses such as John 16:33, Philippians 4:13, Hebrews 12:1-2 and Ephesians 2:8-10 written beneath his eyes. His passion for the Word is literally written on his face.

When Tebow sported Proverbs 3:5-6 in his eye black, sports writers questioned if he’d go all Old Testament blood and gore on his opponents. Thus, we have evidence that people do look up and contemplate the holy scriptures Tebow throws into the game. Touchdown for Tebow!

Tebow’s critics are howling over his shameful Wonderlic-ing, which they say is proof that only idiots believe in God. Touchdown for his opponents who conclude that more time spent on studying, rather than praying, would have produced better test scores. God does expect us to do our part.

Number 1 quarterbacks aren't adored for how they handle a Number 2 pencil. However, Christians are evaluated on how they live up to their faith. Very unlike the typical pursuits of most college students, Tebow has spent his free time doing missionary and philanthropic work. To prove he is the real deal in all aspects of his life, Tebow is put to many public tests.

This 23 year-old is under a media microscope that is deeply searching to reveal even the most minute flaw. Since he graduated from the University of Florida with a 3.66 GPA, was on the honor roll and received various academic accolades, his failure to perform well on a basic test, for which study guides abound, is due cause for scrutiny and scorn. Tebow’s Wonderlic score plays into the naysayer hand that asserts he has only made it due to a vast, multi-source caudle.

Regarding his athletic ability, Tebow – without fail – credits God for being the source of all his accomplishments. And, who better to caudle you and cause your success? With that attitude, I suppose Tebow is comfortable with whom God made him to be, shortcomings and all. But, I bet he takes personal responsibility for his own mistakes, such as underperforming on a test. Since Tebow consistently gives all the glory to God, in this drive, Tebow angles for another score.

Non-Christian scoffers are not the only ones who disapprove of Tebow’s public display of his beliefs. Even some fellow Christians have complained that his on-his-face religion is too in-your-face. These Christians cite Matthew 6:5-6 as their rationale for why they find Tebow’s public style to be distasteful religious grandstanding and would prefer he thump his Bible and pray only in private.

By throwing the Holy Scriptures into the game, Tebow is putting the Truth in front of millions. Inevitably, there will be those who see this as obnoxious Christian imperialism but, the light is not for timidly hiding under the fear basket. The amount of increase Tebow’s bold efforts will gain is for God to determine however, you can’t score big points if you don’t put your all into the game.

“Sanctimonious zealot” is but one of the insults Tebow scrambles past when hurled by Christians and non-Christians alike. Some on both sides believe that STFU is the best advice he could ever receive, if he wants to succeed in the NFL. Others feel that Tebow’s test scores were God’s way of telling him to shut up. To a Christian, it is all about the One, but for others, the one-note nature of the speech of some Christians (perhaps Tebow) is too grating for them to tolerate.

Most people desiring Tebow-talk are seeking his thoughts on football, not religion and often don’t appreciate the diversion. Due to Tebow’s perceived pushing of religion, his opponents are pushing back with predictions that this will doom him to be a bust of Biblical proportions in the NFL. Many think Tebow should not interject, or, as they define it – impose – his faith on people with whom he does not have a pre-existing, personal relationship.

Perhaps the critics may eke out a field goal here. God’s desire for relationship with man is the Gospel. God does not force relationship, but reaches people where they are, to guide them to where they need to be. Not everyone is ready to fondly receive public prayer and continuous praise for God. However, a balanced and playful approach may soften some people into becoming good sports who are comfortable with the display of another’s faith.

In the context of a group of alpha males competing to be top dog at a scouting event, anyone who suggests leading the huddle in prayer should expect a biting response. However, if Tebow ran with the pack and spoke in the NFL vernacular by saying something like lets get drunk and laid after this test, a hearty cheer of agreement would have risen from the crowd. But, the suggestion of a prayer is bound to spawn some snarky snickering. A Christian must scholarly calculate what he is up against to make the right play.

Tebow racks up points for being a leader; one who is brave enough to do the right because it is - right. However, every leader becomes a better leader as they grow in awareness of how to draw others to their leadership through relationship rather than rule. Respect in leadership must be earned and Tebow had earned nothing with this group.

Debaters love to speculate over whom would be better to have on your team: Tebow, who may ruffle others with the perception of toxic Christian arrogance, or the guy who allegedly, with divisive scorn, told Tebow to STFU. Those in the debate can see how both personality types can negatively impact the functioning of a team. However, many do prefer the STFU dude over a clean and encouraging Christian – that is the world.

In this world, Tebow’s sex life, or the lack there of, is a media and fan obsession. Efficiency is someone who can become a sex symbol despite never having had sex, while other players must struggle to accomplish the same with infinite sexploits. Tebow’s status as an unwitting sex symbol has women eager to pose for a photo with him just for the gossip publicity, while for so many female fans, there are no moral limits to any aspect of their eagerness.

Furthermore, Tebow must persevere through taunts that if he is not taking gonzo sexual advantage of his popularity he must therefore be gay. Conversely, some critics are taking bets on when he will fall from his moral high horse in order to board the ho-train, Tiger Woods’ style.

Undoubtedly, Tebow has thoroughly considered that by making his faith so blatantly public, his actions in all areas of life, are preaching a message. Longsuffering and persecution for righteousness will score in the Kingdom of Heaven, while the world is watching for the opportunity to win a supposed fatal hypocrite blow when a Christian makes a public mistake. One is more likely to turn big plays into points when one knows the playing field and the opponent.

When the predictable percentage of players in that testing room eventually enter a 12-step program, or sports fans in any living room find they must recognize a higher power, they may recall Tebow can introduce them to the Higher Power who protected him from the brokenness that plagues so many big-leaguers and their followers.

Despite malicious mocking and threats to his career aspirations, Tebow has refused to shut his faith up. He, like all Christians should, has counted the cost and invested his all in the game of discipleship. The next time someone tells you to STFU, hopefully it’s because you, like Tebow, are scoring points by putting God in the game.

After announcing the final score, the ultimate cheer for Tebow, and for like-minded Christians, will be, “Well done good and faithful servant, come share your Master’s happiness!”


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When you hear someone comment their scores were no good for the hockey pool so they came to church, I guess the Christians don't go to football or whatever to hear about God.
It is much like God told the people, "I sent you disciples, prophets with my word & ye beat them & chased them out of your cities.'
No one likes to hear the truth, esp. in the midst of their greatest transgression, they feel.
Another thing I have found is that, many will say they speak only God's word & will be hated for it, but when they hear what God has to say, esp. from a source so unexpected, of course they rebel, esp. when it offends their walk with God.
God says we are to proclaim the word from the roof tops & that is a pretty high roof top to me.
4/24/2010 1:54:55 AM - shurdell, Member of Delve into Jesus since 4/22/2008

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