Just watched the NCAA national football game and it was a heartbreaker for OU. Florida played a very good game, and I think OU left some points on the field. But overall, a good game and one that national observers would have to agree was worthy of the 1 v. 2 matchup.
Hard to watch. Tough for me, but only because I am a fan, and it is fun cheering for your team. This isn't life, and I know that very well. Many around me take this game, and every sporting event at OU very seriously. For some, it is a distraction from life. For others, an obsession. For many, just fun. This was a very good game, however, and I am glad I watched it. It was not an embarrassment as so many have been, but a well-played (for the most part) and well strategized game.
But in the middle of this, I have to note an issue I have with athletes and Christianity. I ignored the post-game conferences, because I don't want to hear Tebow credit Jesus for his win. It isn't just Tebow. It bothered me, frankly, when Sam Bradford made a point of connecting his Heisman Trophy win to God. If God chooses the Heisman Trophy winner, then I have to ask what the hell he is thinking. I remember Ben Roethlisberger saying that God made him a starter on his college squad. The guy who was benched, of course, wasn't worthy of God's favor. Or the time a mike caught David Carr thanking Jesus for a downfield completion. (Considering Carr's career, perhaps I should be more kind. Perhaps he was thanking God for any completion.) God reduced to the puppet master for the rich and powerful, and throughout the land, churchgoers who should know better nod their head, or say "amen," because they have been taught to do that. And since they believe they are "under siege," they see these vapid displays of "faith" as something far more meaningful than they are.
Tim Tebow does that kind of stuff on a daily basis. He grew up in a missionary household, and for all I know, doesn't know any better. I know he thinks that is ministry and "witness," but it makes me a little ill. I have to imagine that God finds it pretty demeaning that he evidently prefers one Christian athlete over another in a game with no intrinsic meaning. Or prefers one Christian over a non-Christian in points scored and yardage gained. Or prefers one Christian over a "lesser" Christian. Or prefers one pretty-boy athlete for fame and fortune over another one.
Many have noted that success is often a horrible teacher. Tebow and Roethlisberger learn the absolutely wrong lessons from success. They look like the body builder troops who attribute their muscle mass to God, without even considering what that means to the weaklings and handicapped. The look like the John Rockefeller types who believe that God wanted them to become wealthy, while ignoring the poor workers who built his empire. Failure, as many far wiser than me know, is often the best teacher. Not because it leads to some ultimate football or political success. But because it teaches you who you are.
Jesus didn't hang with the pretty people in South Beach, nor the star athletes in Norman. He didn't go to soirees in the gated communities, nor wear the Italian suits of the wealthy and the powerful. He didn't ride in limos. He didn't attribute arbitrary points to God's favor, nor affluence and wealth. Those are American creations, and American creations that have become some kind of perversion of faith.
To quote from Holden Caufield, "Jesus would have puked."