This is the question posed by religion writer Tom Krattenmaker in his USA Today op-ed, “When Tim Tebow loses, does God, too?” If this seems like a silly question, remember that some Christians have been seeing Tebow’s amazing victories as quarterback of the Denver Broncos as miracles. Particularly inspiring was the fact that in the Broncos’ shocking victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tebow passed for 316 yards with a completion rate of 31.6 yards per pass. It doesn’t take a Christian rocket scientist to note that Tebow’s stats align neatly with his favorite Bible verse, John 3:16.
A cynic like me might point out that it would have been more obviously miraculous if Tebow’s passing average had been 3.16 yards, rather than 31.6. Didn’t anybody notice that Deuteronomy 31:6 reads, “Be strong! Be fearless! Don’t be afraid and don’t be scared by your enemies, because the LORD your God is the one who marches with you. He won’t let you down, and he won’t abandon you.”
Anyway, for those who have been seeing Tebow’s leadership of Bronco victories as evidence for God’s blessing of Tebow, or even as proof of God’s existence, the Bronco’s recent loss to the Patriots, by the very unmiraculous score of 45-10, does feel unsettling, to say the least. Has God lost something in the process? Credibility? Believability? Excellent seats for the Super Bowl?
When the Denver Broncos are winning because of Tebow’s “Hail Mary” passes . . . oops, sorry, wrong version of Christianity. Let me try again. When the Denver Broncoes are winning because of Tebow’s miraculous passing, and when he is glorying in these victories, his thanking Jesus could seem shallow.
I’m not suggesting that Tebow is shallow, only that he might appear to be so. It’s easy to love Jesus when things are going well in your life. But the real test of faith, the real test of character, the real evidence of a miracle is when people thank God in the midst of suffering. Thus, if Tebow’s team loses, and if he continues to be a person of faith and faithfulness, then his witness to Christ will be more compelling. Thus my conclusion: If Tebow loses, God just might win even more.
Of course it all depends on the integrity of Tim Tebow’s faith. From what I can see at a distance, he is a man of deep and genuine Christian faith. But he is also only 24 years old, after all. I’d hate to have had to bear the burden of scrutiny that Tebow bears when I was 24. Yikes! Nevertheless, Tebow will demonstrate his true character and his true faith, not in thrilling victories, but in agonizing defeats.