Monday, January 9, 2012

I Won't Tebow to Your Idol

Tim Tebow brought the pain to my boys in Black and Gold last night, beating them in overtime with a huge 80 yard bomb that made it the quickest ending to an NFL overtime in history. And when it was over, he knelt down and prayed a prayer of thanks.

'Tim Tebow' photo (c) 2010, Jeffrey Beall - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/And that act probably caused more arguments on Facebook last night than the actual outcome of the game.

On one side, you have the folks who point to Tim Tebow's success as proof of the sovereignty of God. Who see any criticism of his playing form as a criticism of his faith. Who trot out the "if he was a Muslim" argument, generally being the same people who pair "radical" with Muslim far more liberally than necessary.

On the other side, you have the critics. The folks who hate that Tebow uses his platform to proselytize. The ones who toss around Matthew 6:6 ad nauseum. The ones who seem just a little too eager to see him screw up.

Either way, we end up creating an idol. And idols are good for one thing - to serve as a replacement for the the god they represent.

It's easy to see how the fans do that. His faith has become the stuff of legend. A Saturday Night Live skit becomes an example of religious persecution. Tim Tebow is the picture of all that is good and right and just. All praise Tebow.

It's the same from the critics. Tebow is every Christian that has ever been kind of an ass. Any praise that he receives is strictly because of his over-the-top Christianity, not because he might actually be pretty good at his job. He represents all that is phony and shallow and annoying. All hate Tebow.

The thing is, Tebow is just this guy, you know? He plays a sport well. He wins some games, he loses some games. He goes to church. He uses his money to support various causes. He probably likes pizza. Some day he'll probably do pretty well on Dancing with the Stars. He likely sassed his mom at some point growing up.

He's not the embodiment of anything, he's a dude who plays football. Most of us don't know much more about him than that (I tried to find information about the pizza thing, but came up empty. I'm just guessing, based on pizza's extreme popularity, that he likes it.).

Turning people into idols or caricatures is really easy for us. We do it all the time. We do it with politicians. We do it with writers. We do it with pastors. We do it with any group or person that we don't know. We elevate them to a position that they never asked for and then we either worship them or knock them down.

In the meantime, we don't even know if they like pizza. Or Community. Or cats. Or flannel. Or Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain.

If we don't know that, we certainly can't know every nuance of their character. Which makes them a poor representation of God, no matter how virtuous they are or are not.

God has provided us with one accurate representation of himself. If we want to start kneeling, let's bow down to that. I'll take a spot right next to Tim on that.

As long as he likes pizza.

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