Win or lose today, the nation will focus its eyes on the Denver-New England NFL game and wonder out loud if it's appropriate for sports heroes like Tim Tebow to "force" his faith on the rest of us who are watching his team on TV.
Whether he wins or loses tonight, Tebow will be interviewed. And he'll utter his well-known sentence, " I'd like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ" - which has caused not only an awkwardness but an antipathy/anger in many circles - and it will be broadcast across the world, once more.
And people will be angry and EVEN portray Tebow as being an angry man and SNL will mock him and so on and so on...even to the point that Playboy Playmates mock Tebow's prayer stance. What they don't realize, I'd bet, is that every knee will eventually bow.
They do not like this "new thing" of overt and public Christian evangelism.
But you know what? The anger registered against Mr. Tebow is actually the new thing, not his publicly expressed evangelism.
The Denver Post noted it in an article this way,
"Christian leaders turned to sports to bring men back to church. The Young Men's Christian Association reached out to men on the streets until influential ministerHenry Ward Beecherurged the YMCA to open a gymnasium, Dodd said.
James Naismith, a trained Presbyterian minister, invented basketball at the Y, where he coached "to win men for the Master through the gym," according to Christianity Today historians.
Volleyball also was the invention of a man with the YMCA. But the towering figure in American sports development was Amos Alonzo Stagg, a Yale divinity student who reluctantly accepted he didn't have a gift for preaching. Instead he became a pioneering YMCA and college coach who helped refine basketball, invented the batting cage for baseball and introduced a long list of innovations in football that transformed the sport."
The Tim Tebows of yesteryear INVENTED many of the sports we enjoy today... invented them... to bring young men back into church.
That's the balanced reality of sports - from Saturday youth soccer games to the Friday Night lights of football in each of our local communities - we fight hard and then we forget about it and gain friends.
Unless that's NOT the goal of a community, state or nation. Like in Europe...
In the post-Christian Europe of today, the results of sports games can end in destruction of property, dishonor and even death. The film Green Street Hooligans, though dramatized, is a good look into the culture of a sports world gone crazy.
Read that first part of the sentence once more: "In the post-Christian Europe of today..."
So... could this mean that part of the anger and antipathy toward Tim Tebow's VERY public expression of his faith takes us back to a time when it was very normal for Americans to combine their faith and exercise? When the letters YMCA were actually only used because "Young Men's Christian Association" was simply too long to say? (Forget about even finding a YWCA today...)
In other words, could Tebow's prayers and genuflecting force each non-religious person viewing the game to reflect (just for a few seconds) on the God who made them - on the God who loves them - and on the God who is being ignored by them?
In a post-Christian America, we may prefer to use only letters like a Y, an M, a C and an A.... but letters stand for words and words mean things.
The invention of basketball, baseball, football and volleyball and so many other sports have the "C"-word etched indelibly in the very center of them.
And words mean things...
Tim Tebow's words and actions apparently mean a lot of things, right now.
For there are many of us who believe as Mr. Tebow believes.
We DO believe that every knee will bow....
PS: Ahh, but John Parr's redo of "St Elmo's Fire" may just be a secular start, at least, to honoring "Tim Tebow's Fire".