I have now become one more of millions of writers and bloggers talking about Tim Tebow. For the sake of full disclosure: I don’t have much that is really new to say. I am only registering my own amazement that I have now become a believer where I have long been skeptical.
I carry a considerable cynicism about sports. It has become the dominant religion of our culture and I rarely see it leading to productive ends; except, of course, for the millions of dollars produces for a lucky few folks. Where I once found it enjoyable, the over-zealous following it receives is now off-putting. Athletics certainly has its good points. I realize that it can promote teamwork, sportsmanship and discipline. But that doesn’t mean it always does. It can also perpetuate an empty competitiveness and even an addiction that is all the worse because it is sanctioned and encouraged by broader society. I happily – no, proudly – follow very little of it.
When faith does intersect with sports, it tends to be very shallow. Worse, it is all too often victory-related. You might imagine, in a world reeling with hurt and hunger, that God really cares which people in which color shirts runs an oddly shaped ball past an arbitrary line the highest number of times. But then, popular culture offers a faith that is similarly superficial. We celebrate the outward appearance of it – like Tebow’s kneel that so many love to mimic – then set it aside when we’ve gotten enough good feelings to last us for a bit. No taking on the challenges of a real life of faith, or digging into the harder questions that arise from real engagement with scripture.
In spite of all this skepticism, I have to say that Tim Tebow has made a believer out of me. I’m already a Believer of course. But now I am a believer not just in Tim Tebow, but in at least some the faith-based hype that can exist around the celebrity of sports.
Not long ago, I heard a reporter speculate that some of Tebow’s success comes from his consistent support of his teammates and colleagues. He is known to offer encouragement to fellow players even when his team is behind. When so many of the Christians in the spotlight today are known for less than positive behavior, it is nice to hear of one who is described as a genuinely nice guy.
What is most impressive, though, is Tebow’s outreach to children and adults who are sick or disabled; bringing them to his games, spending time with them, offering them an experience better than probably anything they have known. For many, it is a dream come true.
What I find most appealing about Tim Tebow is that he doesn’t seem to buy into his own hype. His own words describe the relative importance of both the game he plays and the life he lives:
"Here you are, about to play a game that the world says is the most important thing in the world. Win and they praise you. Lose and they crush you. And here I have a chance to talk to the coolest, most courageous people. It puts it all into perspective. The game doesn't really matter. I mean, I'll give 100 percent of my heart to win it, but in the end, the thing I most want to do is not win championships or make a lot of money, it's to invest in people's lives, to make a difference."
My skeptical heart has been changed by the things I learn about Tebow. Though he is human like all of us, he seems to be genuine; real enough in his faith to not only put on a show but to put real time and effort into making a positive difference in the lives of others. You can do the “Tebow” all you want to, kneeling in prayer, fist to forehead. But visiting the sick and showing kindness to strangers – seems like Jesus mentioned something about it – let’s mimic that one!
Our family loved this recipe. I bet it would be good on game day, too!
1 c. flour ¼ c. conf. sugar
1 stick melted margarine
Mix well. Pat out in a 14’ pizza pan. Bake at 350o for 10 minutes.
1 8 oz. cream cheese 1 can condensed milk
1/3 c. lemon juice
Pour over cooled crust.
1 large pkg. frozen sliced strawberries 4 T. cornstarch
Stir constantly until thick.
Cool and spread over cream layer.
Enjoy! - Diane Taylor