Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Beware

This would be my advice to Tim Tebow: Pay no mind to your friends or your detractors; listen to Jesus.

Jesus said,

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1, 5-6)

Now, before all of Tim Tebow’s fans rise up in his defense, I’m not insinuating that Tim Tebow is kneeling and bowing on the sidelines in order to be seen by others. I have no idea what his motivation is (and don’t want to know, actually). However, I can read what Jesus said. Jesus said, “Beware”, so we should heed the Lord’s warning and carefully examine our motives because, “The heart is deceitful above all things...” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Something else to consider: Tim Tebow’s act of kneeling on the sidelines after he makes touchdowns, to some degree, has been a subject of controversy (and yes, I realize most, if not all, of the controversy has been stirred up by the media). The apostle Paul wrote, “‘All things are lawful’ [quoting what, perhaps, some in the Corinthian church were saying], but not all things are helpful” (1 Cor. 10:23). In light of all the tongue-wagging in the media, I can’t help but wonder if Tebow’s public acts of prayer might be unhelpful.

Does it matter? Well, Paul goes on to write, “Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:32-33). So, as believers, we should be concerned to not unnecessarily give offense and, as best we can, try to please everyone, with the goal of seeking their salvation. I don’t think this situation is as much about a Christian being criticized for his faith as it is about the need for Christians to set aside their “rights” and put others before themselves. Since prayer is directed to God, it is not necessary that others see and hear us pray. And since prayer doesn’t require kneeling, it is not necessary to kneel. So, if people are bothered by a quarterback kneeling in prayer on the sidelines after he makes a touchdown, what harm is there—how is his praying hindered—if he just takes his seat on the bench with his teammates and prays from there?

Please understand I have nothing against Tim Tebow. In fact, I’m not a sports fan at all (sorry), and I watch very few sporting events (my wife is the sports fan in our household) so, before I started writing this, I hardly knew what Tim Tebow looked like. From what I hear, he is a fine, upstanding, Christian young man. I have no reason at all to question his faith, sincerity or Christian devotion. My questions are mostly about Tim Tebow’s Christian fans. Why are they so quick to defend his public kneeling in prayer, when Jesus said “go into your room and shut the door”? Remember, we’re not talking about a gathering for Christian worship; we’re talking about a football game! Is it really necessary to kneel at that time and place? Can’t Tim Tebow (or any other player who wants to pray) pray just as well sitting on the bench?

More importantly, are the Lord Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 6 and the Apostle Paul’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 10, optional?

Maybe we should all listen more carefully to Jesus. He said, “Beware”.

2 comments:

dMsmith said...

Great write Wyeth. Nice young man yes, but perhaps his expressions of faith are doing more harm than good. Don't know, just wondering!

wwdunc said...

I don't know that Tebow's expressions of faith are doing harm, but the overreactions of both fans & detractors are what is not helpful.