I’m sure most people have heard the saga of Tim Tebow. College football star quarterback, wins National Championship, wins Heismann Trophy, but questionable NFL prospect. Gets drafted by the Denver Broncos, much to the shock of some, the delight of others. But all of that takes a back seat to one other issue: his faith in Jesus Christ.
Grabbing more headlines than anything he does as a player is his bold, outspoken, consistent mention of his faith. In every interview. All the time. Everywhere. Even takes a knee on the field frequently.
Some love him for it. Some hate him for it. Some mock him. Some cheer. When he suddenly gets a shot at starting for the struggling Broncos, and they start winning, his fans cheer louder and his detractors jeer louder. Of course, when they go on a three game losing skid, the fans moan and the critics rejoice.
In fact, one loud-mouth, arrogant and ignorant liberal talking head said some vile things after that first loss that had it been said about a prominent Muslim, there would have been legal action, protests, etc. But Tebow just smiles and goes on praising God. And that’s what bugs folks the most I think. His humble, consistent confession.
But all of this begs the question: Is God behind Tebow and the Broncos? There have been other outspoken Christian athletes. My favorite NFL quarterback, Kurt Warner, led a Cinderella season for our St. Louis Rams years ago, taking us all the way to Super Bowl glory. Some at the time grumbled about Warner’s faith, and teased about God being on the Rams’ side, etc. Of course Warner then lost his next Super Bowl, and after leading the Arizona Cardinals to the same hallowed ground, fell short again. So did God abandon him?
With the Broncos amazing and unlikely victory over the Steelers in the playoffs yesterday, the question come up again, Is God behind Tebow and the Bronco? Well, actually, it’s a ridiculous question.
It ridiculous to ask if God plays favorites in sports. Does God have a rooting interest in the NFL? Does he favor the Christian players on the Broncos more than the Christian players on the Steelers, or any other team that might win or lose? Is God “rooting” for one team over another, one player over another. Of course not. It’s a ridiculous question.
God doesn’t play favorites. The Broncos didn’t win just because Tebow was the quarterback and he has an “in” with God. Doesn’t work that way. Never has. (In spite of one column suggesting something magic about the number 316, as in John 3:16. Read here). Even though I find myself rooting for players that I know are brothers in Christ, doesn’t mean they will win just because they’re Christians. In spite of what the health and wealth heretics tell you, God doesn’t exist to make you happy, ensure your career success, and so on.
However, the question is also ridiculous to ask on this front. Does a Sovereign God know, even orchestrate the outcome of a game? Did He not know who would win before the game even started? Of course He did. Jesus told us that not even a sparrow falls outside the knowledge, plan, and care of God. If that’s true, can we not also say that not a pass falls outside His knowledge, plan and care?
God’s sovereignty, an issue I mentioned in my last post, doesn’t just apply to major historical events. God isn’t just sovereign over nations and history and creation; He is sovereign over the lives of His people. It was part of God’s plan for Tim Tebow to win that game, just as it was part of His plan for him to lose the last three. Not because God’s a Broncos fan, or a Tebow fan, but because God is at work in the lives of His people shaping them for His purpose and His glory.
Sometimes, God’s plan involves success. David and Goliath sort of stuff. Sometimes God’s plan involves failure. David and Bathsheba kind of stuff. I don’t understand it. To be honest, I often don’t agree with it. I don’t like when my plans don’t work the way I want them to. Shoot, I don’t like it when my team doesn’t win in the playoffs.
But if we truly believe in the Sovereignty of God we have to say that even the outcomes of football games are part of His plans and purposes, for His glory; win or lose. Not because He’s rooting for a certain team, but because He has a purpose for that win or loss in the lives of countless individuals. Just as he has a plan for the success or failure of each of us; business, health, family, etc. Again, I don’t always fully comprehend it; don’t always like it.
God even knows who our next president will be. We don’t even know the players yet, but God knows who will win the game, and whether we like it or not, the winner will win because it is part of God’s plan. Scripture clearly tells us that God sets up kings and brings them down. I don’t understand it, or have to like it.
But I’m content to rest in the truth that God is God and I’m not. He doesn’t have to explain Himself to me; He’s God. He doesn’t have to explain Himself to you either. His answer to Job is His answer to us: Where were you when I laid the foundations of the world, hung the stars, and so on. Or as the apostle Paul put it: Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?
So is God behind Tebow and the Broncos? What a ridiculous question. Of course He’s not; God doesn’t play favorites. And yet, what a ridiculous question. Of course He is. He is the Sovereign God of all things. But either way you look at it, I’m still going to root for Tebow and the Broncos!