As if it weren't enough that he's so "in your face" with his religion, he had to go and pass for 316 yards this weekend, causing determined non-thinkers around the world to claim some kind of divine intervention, i.e. John 3:16.
"Yay! Everything he does promotes Jesus! Yay!"
Really? Is that what the Christian faith has been reduced to?
I'll say it again - I don't have anything personally against Tebow. I'll also say again - I'm utterly, entirely, and unapologetically opposed to the way he promotes his religion (and I say religion because I don't think the word "faith" properly applies to ritualistic behavior). It was confirmed to me by some former ATIers today that the Tebows were, for a time, involved in ATI (I've no idea of their current level of involvement, or of the depth of the connection there), and given his background as a missionary kid and being a product of the Christian homeschooling movement, his behaviors are somewhat typical of the indoctrination process involved in those things.
From the beginning of Tebow-mania, the fascinating (and maddening) aspect of the whole deal has been the response of the Christian community. It's confirmed most of my suspicions - and fears - about the state of modern fungelical Christianity. Not that I've necessarily "arrived" spiritually or otherwise, because I haven't, but the Christian community is completely gullible, has confused things of substance with things of no substance, and will follow ANY shepherd who says "I'm a Christian" right off a cliff. No one bothers to think. No one bothers to discern. No one bothers to look past the packaging. Like I described in my last Tebow piece, it's a shallow faith. Super shallow. Lots of religious addictions out there masquerading around as "devotion".
I usually keep my blog-related stuff off of my personal FB page. I'm certainly not ashamed of it, but I get enough grief just from what I write here that there's no need in generating more on my FB page from people in my world. This week, though, with my FB news feed just flooded with ridiculous notions about Tebow, pictures of little children "Tebowing", and tons of nonsense about the 3:16 stuff, I said to myself, "Well bull butter, I'm saying something." I started with a status that I hoped would make people bother to think a bit...
"Why aren't Christians as supportive of all the other Christians in the NFL? The Christians not named "Tebow", or in other words, those not living out their faith in ways Jesus instructed us NOT to?"
I got a couple of expected responses, and I say "expected" because not everyone is aware of the legalistic and cultic nature of Tebow's background. Can't hold that against anyone, and I don't...although I do believe it's everyone's responsibility to discern before we jump on a bandwagon. Beyond that initial status update, I joined in a couple of Tebow-related conversations elsewhere, and I ran into rationalization after rationalization, many symptoms of religious addiction, and lots of examples of cultural war emotional attachments. I was, and continue to be, amazed and befuddled at how easily Christians either rationalize or look entirely past Matthew 6:5-6...
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Ask yourself, would Tebow wear THAT scripture on his eye-black? No. He wouldn't, and we all know he wouldn't, and we all know why he wouldn't. He'd have to stop "Tebowing"...and he has no intention of doing that. That alone should be reason enough for people genuinely devoted to Christ to not be supportive of Tebow's methods. I didn't say "try to stop Tebow". I said "not be supportive of Tebow's methods". Big difference. Watching people tap-dance around direct instruction from Jesus Christ has been revealing.
I went on to post the following as a FB status...
"I wonder if the evangelical community would be so robust in their unflinching championing of Tim Tebow if they knew that his brand of Christianity looks more like FLDS in practice than their own brand of Christianity. I mean, it isn't like Jesus didn't specifically teach about NOT making public spectacles of our prayers, but when Tebow does it, he's somehow "witnessing"."
I made a few people mad at me with that one. Not every response was on my wall. Tebow's obvious defiance to what Christ instructed has been excused by several with the idea that we're commanded to be "bold in our faith". Well, Paul generally gave that instruction, so are we Paultians, or are we Christians, and does something Paul said about boldness negate something Jesus said about our faith (and prayer, specifically) having an etiquette that reflects on our spiritual character?...especially given that what Jesus said reflects directly, and poorly, upon what Tebow's doing, and what Paul said has to be applied generally. Tebow could take it down several notches and still be over the top. If he brought it down under the top, would that somehow mean he's less bold - or does it mean he's likely mature enough, spiritually, that his life can serve as a billboard for his faith without actually serving as a literal billboard for his faith? The irony is, those excusing Tebow's "boldness" regarding his faith wouldn't be nearly so enthralled with my own "boldness" in issues of faith here on this blog - and I don't promote this blog or force it on anyone. If you read here, you've done so by choice.
I finally posted the following as my FB status earlier today, and I think it sums things up...
"I think a valuable exercise for us ALL is to regularly examine whether our allegiance is to Christ, to Christianity, or to conservative Christian culture. Those are entirely different things which quite often get confused with each other. Tebow-mania is a good example."
From what I've seen in observing Tebow-mania, most Christians fall into the latter 2 of those 3. Tebow is, to them, a big ole "eff you!" to the other side of the culture war. They ceased to actually think about issues, whether cultural or spiritual, looooong ago - if they ever did at all - willing to accept whatever emotionally and culturally charged bandwagon the rest of the herd is riding. It's a faith that's really no deeper than devoted allegiance to a sports team - which probably made the segue to Tebow-mania an easy one.
Several people have lauded how "God gets his message out regardless!", referring to the Tebow deal with 316. They're lying to themselves, and the lies we tell to ourselves are the most powerful. They're cloaking their religious infatuation with Tebow-mania behind the guise of "the message getting out". They say it isn't about Tebow, but about the message. They're being dishonest with themselves. It's about Tebow.
"Lewis! You don't know that! How dare you judge them!"
I'm not judging them. I'm using some common sense. Let's say I decide to go streaking through a town with John 3:16 tattoos on my bum and John 3:16 banners attached to various appendages, and I get arrested at 3:16PM. Would their focus be on the message, or on "the Lord getting out His message"? Or would it be on me and my actions? At its core, it's no different with Tebow.
We need to be honest about these things, and we need to think. Hard.