By Terry Williams
In his Jan. 15 column, “Poll result prompts closer look at Tebow,” James Day has asked the right question when addressing the Tim Tebow phenomenon when he wrote, “Does God care who wins football games?”
There are chaplains for every team in the NFL. One should note that on-field prayer at the end of a game has players from both teams joined together.
Is it any different for groups to meet for prayer or Bible study at a job site? People who love God in any line of work will find each other and support one another in these ways.
There are Christians on both teams in competition. Why would God select one team over another?
I coach a women’s basketball team at a Christian university. If God selected the winner, why would we ever lose? We have lost three games to “secular” schools this year when we had the last possession and a chance to win and yet we lost. Recently, we won a game in overtime against another Christian college. Did God choose us in that game but our opponents in the other three games? Absolutely not!
When praying, we’re not asking God to let us win. That’s asking God to play favorites. Rather, we pray for God to allow us to do as well as we have prepared, to allow His Spirit in us to manage our character throughout the game and to play hard as Jesus would have done.
In prayer, we ask God’s Spirit to help us focus, to show His love in the spirit of competition and to help us compete our hardest. Winning comes from skill, teamwork and effort.
The Bible recognizes that believers will not always win. Winning is never guaranteed just because we have a testimony or pray openly or say, “I want to thank God for this victory.” God does not reward or punish according to such things.
Tebow will tell you that this is not what being a Christian athlete is about. Christians in sports are not about being God’s puppet to win games. They are about following Jesus who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). They are about gaining the character of Christ, in victory or defeat, and living a life prescribed by Him through His Word: “I am come that you may have life, and have it to the fullest.” (John 10:10b).
Tebow gets this and does not credit winning games to his faith. For Tebow, his energy and excitement, his work ethic, his caring for teammates and the fans and his service to the community and beyond all flow from his relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our Christian players can attest to the perspective Mr. Day highlighted in his column. We strive to win every game and will pray before, during and after games. We want our character to reflect our love for God. However, the outcome of the game will depend on how well we play.