Thursday, February 16, 2012

#lintastic, #linsanity, #tebowing and a warning against idolatry

English: Tim Tebow, a player on the Denver Bro...
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I've never been much of a professional sports fan. Growing up, I liked watching professional baseball, and going to games, but was never really a fan of football or basketball. In recent years, I've become more of a college football fan, at least of the Auburn Tigers. In the past 6 months, we've seen two different phenomenons which appear ocassionally in professional sports, that of the superstar who happens to be a Christian. We've seen this before with people like Kurt Warner. We've now seen it with Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin. Most people know who Tim Tebow is by now. He just finished his second season with the Denver Broncos, and after becoming the starting quarterback several games into the season, he came out swinging as if he was still playing for the Florida Gators. Jeremy Lin is a graduate of Harvard and until a few weeks ago, was sitting on the bench of the New York Knicks until injuries to teammates allowed him to play. He has thrown the sports world off-balance by his meteoric rise to fame.

Both Tebow and Lin are outspoken Christians as well. Tebow is also stout on what he believes when it comes to certain branches of Christianity. He pulled out of an event sponsored by prosperity preacher "pew-jumper" Rod Parsley. That was impressive. Lin is known to quote John Piper, and to share Bible verses on his Twitter account. Being as involved in social media as I am, with following blogs, and Twitter, I see a lot of Christians posting items about Tebow and Lin on a daily basis. With all that, I see a danger. The danger is of being idolatrous.

I've always thought sports has the danger of being idolatrous. Churches often use sports as a way to attract men, with sports-themed Bible studies, inviting a sports star to speak at a breakfast, etc. There is nothing wrong with these, but if that's the only way a church attempts to attract men, then there might be a danger. Tebow and Lin aren't the only professional sports stars out there who happen to be outspoken Christians. Albert Pujols led the St. Louis Cardinals to their World Series win last year. He also runs a charity dedicated to making life better for disabled people. He shares the Gospel with base runners as they pass first base where he plays.

Every day, I see Christians posting/sharing videos highlighting what these sports stars are doing, making up words such as #tebowing, which is  reference to how Tebow bows on one knee. People have been "tebowing" in public, in the store, in school, etc. I've heard Christians talk about "tebowing" and then laughing about it. It's almost a mockery of something that Tebow is doing in faith. And we are idolizing it and idolizing Tebow. Tim Tebow is just a sinner like you and me, saved by God's Grace. The same goes for Jeremy Lin. They have the same Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I fear that we are making a mockery of their faith by putting them on pedestals. They have God-given talents, but so do a lot of other professionals who don't have faith. Maybe their faith does help them play better, but let's not idolize it. I believe they want to be just like us, but they have talents that we don't have. There are other just as talented players who are also believers. We are putting them down by focusing on others.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,
(Galatians 5:16-19; Galatians 5:20-26 ESV) idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

(Galatians 5:16-19; Galatians 5:20-26 ESV)

Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

(1 Corinthians 10:7, 10:14 ESV)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

(Colossians 3:5-11 ESV)

For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
(1 Peter 4:3-6 ESV)

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