Saturday, February 6, 2016

Does God Care Who Wins the Big Game?

Tebow-mania was at its peak only a few years ago. The outspoken Christian QB had led the Denver Broncos to a series of improbable victories; victories that make the rabid football fan fall off his chair or jump off his couch. These were games where he'd be like 3-16 passing for 12 yards and then on the final drive he'd throw dart after dart, make an incredible run and end up with the 'W.' Tebow's love/hate relationship with society in general is another story, but it's simply undeniable that his success on the field left most everyone dumbfounded.

The Broncos backed into the playoffs and had to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wildcard round. Denver won their division so they got to host Pittsburgh despite having won fewer games. A variety of things happened that put Denver and Tebow in position to win that game. The Steelers had a few injuries and one of their key players was unable to play in the thin air of Mile High Stadium. Events unfolded in dramatic fashion and the game went into OT! And then Tebow happened:

Did God empower Tebow to victory? Does He care who wins games? What's your answer? Let's look at both sides before we decide.


1 Peter 1:17
17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth...
God is impartial, right? Of course! He's impartial in how He judges works. So does this prove God doesn't care who wins? Not really.

Acts 10:34-35

Gentiles Hear Good News  
34 Opening his mouth, Peter said:“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.
Some stats from the game
Ha! God doesn't show partiality! See! But the context here is that whosoever believes in the name of the Lord and repents of his sins is welcomed into the kingdom. So it's not really talking at all about whether God equips someone for a task in a special way. This is about whether salvation was for Jews only or for the whole world (i.e. Jews AND Gentiles).

Tim, what about James 2? That's all about not showing favoritism!
Yes, I agree. It's about not showing personal favoritism between our fellow human beings - specifically, fellow believers. So nor does this passage negate the possibility that God can favor one team to win over the other.


What are some of the silliest things you've ever prayed about? Clothes to wear? Color car to buy? Maybe that McDonald's would still be serving breakfast when you got there (that prayer has now been comprehensively answered)? Did you care about those things if just in that moment? If you cared about them, you're a child of God, then do you think He cared about them, too?

Does that mean He answered those prayers in the affirmative or by saying "buy the blue car" in a booming voice from heaven as an Apostle performed miracles? Probably not. Perhaps He answered those prayers by helping you remember how eternally insignificant those things were. But you still cared and He, because He loves you and cares for you, also cared, but probably not for the same reasons or in the same way.

Imagine if your husband was a degenerate gambler and he bet your whole life savings on the game. Would you care about the outcome of the game then? Let's say you then pray to God to help Denver win the game. Would that be wrong? Your whole life savings and well being of your family depends on it (at least from your perspective)! That's a legitimate prayer request. 

What if you are a player on the team and your best friend on the team is going to retire after the season and he's never won a Super Bowl and you really want him to get that ring? Is it okay to pray for a win then? I sure think so!

It should go without saying that we ask these things of God knowing that His answer may be "no" and that we are ready for such a reply. We don't assume He'll grant us a victory. But we ask for His assistance, either providentially or supernaturally, just like we would on a test in school.

I recall discussing Tebow a few years ago and my one friend said "no, God doesn't play favorites" and I agreed with that at the time but my wife also said, "why couldn't He?" Since I never came up with an answer I had to reevaluate why God is forbidden from intervening in a football game, if indeed He is. 

And that's the real question, isn't it? Did God intervene? And that's a question I can't possibly answer! What I do know is that Tebow worked really hard, kept his nose clean and boldly spoke of his Savior and God used him in a great way. Tebow reaped what he sowed. God wasn't obligated to help Tebow win in a supernatural way but He was also free to do so if He wanted. God, by virtue of being God, does as He pleases apart from our objections or notions of neutrality. Maybe God providentially acted to have a light flicker and distract a Pittsburgh defender for just long enough for Tebow to hit Demaryius Thomas for a TD, or maybe not. I don't know how that works! 

God truly cares for His children. He cares about everything we care about and He cares about us so much that He often needs to remind us that the things of this world aren't eternal, will pass away and shouldn't be what we center our lives around. And yet He's not indifferent as to who wins and who loses. It's all part of His plan. God could have used a Denver win or a Denver loss to accomplish His plans but He chose Denver to win. 

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