|AP Photo/Julie Jacobson|
"I solemnly urge you:2proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching." - 2 Timothy 2:1c-2
"And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others." - Matthew 6:5
Questions, both sincere and cynical, abound:
"If the Broncos win, does that mean God is on Tim Tebow's side?"
"If the Broncos lose, is God testing or punishing Tim Tebow?"
Need it be said that this has nothing whatsoever to do with Mr. Tebow? With whether he falls on his knees on the field. With whether he gives to charity. With whether his team loses or wins.
It is cliche to suggest that Americans' primary religion is professional sports, football being the most successful denomination of late. I have nothing to say about whether people are in church or tailgating on Sunday morning.
Likewise, I have nothing to say about whether an NFL quarterback prays before, during, or after the game to his god or gods. Or God.
It's all missing the point.
Here's the truth: God loves Tim Tebow. Not because he falls on his knees in worship. Not because he made some confession of faith. Not because he's baptized. Not because he wins football games.
Since we're talking football, allow me to put it this way: God loves Jerry Sandusky. Remember him? He's the Penn State football coach who allegedly committed endless, heinous sexual crimes against children.
There are Christians who love Tim Tebow's God, because they love Tim Tebow. Not that they shouldn't.
So how do we feel about the God who loves Jerry Sandusky?
Sometimes we're not so sure about Him. We want Him to love who we love. But we'd also prefer that He hate who we hate. Child molesters. Middle Eastern dictators. Reality show stars. Homosexuals. Rush Limbaugh. Or Michael Moore. Muslims. Or Jews. The opposing team.
Whoever that god is, He is not the Father of Jesus. In speaking for his God (John 5:30), Jesus says:
"But I say to you, 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.'" - Matthew 5:44-45
He makes the sun to rise and sends the rain on the Broncos and the Patriots. On Tim Tebow and Jerry Sandusky. On Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore. On the Palestinians and the Israelis. On you. On me. On our enemies.
What are we to make of that? It's easier to pick a team. Makes for better football watching.
But Jesus on the cross touches heaven and earth, reaches out his arms to embrace east and west. He doesn't take sides.