The Tim Tebow Phenomenon: God’s Providence or Good Luck?

I praise God that Tebow is who he is.  The fact remains though, that he is presently the most polarizing figure in all of sports.

Since I’m an Alabama boy, I naturally LOVE the game of football.  Matter-of-fact, the harder the hit, the more fun the game really is (within reason of course).  But as a minister here in Colorado, I am trying to sort this out theologically.  Even if you’ve been under a rock, you may know that Tim Tebow, the unlikely, “not fit for the NFL” Quarterback has led the Denver Broncos to an impressive 7-1 record since taking the helm on week 6.  But typically, he does it in the 4th quarter, almost “miraculously” bringing the game back and eeking out the win.  I really appreciate the perspective of Owen Strachan, author of a recent blog article on the Gospel Coalition about “Tebow, Calvin, and the Hand of God in Sports.”

In his blog post, Strachan states, “Instead of living each day for our own glory, Paul urges us to adopt a theocentric way of life: ‘So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Cor. 10:31 ).”  I send a hearty “amen, preach it, man” to that statement.

In the New Testament, God’s children are called to a higher way of living; a higher perspective than the everyday Joe out there on the street who may not have Christ as the focus of his life.  I differentiate between CHRIST and GOD only in this sense; Jesus himself consistently lived for and prayed, “if I testify of myself, my testimony is not valid.” – John 5, 8, 17, and Matthew 5 all show this attitude that Jesus, although the Son of God, deflected the glory to his Father.

David prayed repeatedly in the Psalms for the Lord to lead his steps.  Even in Jeremiah 10:23 states, Jeremiah prays, “LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.”  I truly believe the Lord is far bigger than football, sewing, barbershop harmony, or any hobby.  But when we commit ourselves to his influence and his glory in all things, it takes on a special type of meaning and ministry, even in the simple things.  Even that simple thing (perhaps football on Sundays in Denver) takes on an aire of salt and light, that it is done to His glory and to season as salt, and illuminate as light the way to God.

That’s why I am encouraged by Tebow.  As for miraculous or amazing comebacks, I’m not doubting God can do it… but I do doubt that he necessarily IS doing it.  Tebow has an amazing mix of willpower, leadership, Theo-centric focus, and athletic talent.  All of those combined, he seems to pull it off in the end with full-belief and poise, that his talent can overcome odds.  The fact that he does that, and then gives GOD the glory time after time is unbelievable to me.  It proves that this young man’s heart is set on being holy and a vessel of God’s light.

But bigger than that, he seems to have done the same thing in Denver that happened in Gainesville.  His team BELIEVES. Once you get that swagger, it’s hard to LOSE the chip on your shoulder… and yet, Tebow gets in front of the camera and never takes credit for the play.  He deflects to his teammates, his coaches, and his Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  I guess more than anything I’ve seen this kid do, it’s the fact that becomes louder and louder to me with each interview… it’s not about me.

I’ve heard Tim talk.  I know guys who film him for channels 2 and 9 in Denver.  They testify to the same thing; the guy is as authentic as they come.  In the post-game Sunday, the punter Britton Colquitt said Tim Tebow has electrified the team with confidence, and then he personally went on to claim God is doing something amazing here in Denver.

What I think, is that Denver’s Defense is very, very good – especially with Dumervil, Vaughn, Bailey, and all the other stellar contributors.  Tim needs to improve a lot of aspects of his game; but he’s a champion.  He has an un-measurable quality that all greats have had; the confidence and command to execute when it has to be done.  Combine that with some good catches, great long field goals, and a great measure of willpower, and this guy is a powerful commodity for Denver.

Regardless of whether you feel it is God’s direct providence, or a huge stroke of good luck, my emphasis is this:  Tim Tebow is good for football, and he’s good for Christianity.  He deflects glory being poured out on him to the Savior, and he builds up others in the process.  THAT is from God.  Oh – and you bet Tim needs to be taking Matt Prater (place kicker) out for some steak.  Tim Tebow makes every player on that team believe he is better than he really may be.

That’s the kind of person I want to be.