The largest religion in our culture is being challenged. People who adhere to this religion are having their faith questioned.
This religion is known as Sportianity. Adherants gather weekly, and sometimes more than once a week, to celebrate and fellowship together. Some meet in large open-air facilities. Others meet in smaller venues. Others are proponents of the "house church" movement and gather with a small group of friends in homes. The more missional of the followers meet in public places known as Sports Bars, to engage with others in the community.
Just as with all religions, different denominations have developed.
There are the Footballists and Basketballists. These two denominations, like many other mainstream ones, are divided. There are the College and Pro sect within each denomination. Sometimes they can fellowship together, but often they stay in their own arenas.
There is also the Baseballians. There is a small offshoot group here called the Collegians, but the vast majority are Major Leaguians.
For the most part a follower of a certain sect is very faithful, but there are those - we call them "stadium hoppers" - who tend to just go where the biggest crowd is at the time.
Meeting places for these denominational groups can be found throughout the nation. However, there are some pretty strong regional groupings. Where I live, the SECers dominate. I must say that recently, the SECers have expanded their mission program into Texas and most likely will continue to grow in that region.
In the north, there are some unique religious groups. These are known as Hockeyists. They're a uniquely northern denomination, but with snowbirds and the retirement of many, there have recently been more of these people spotted in the southern parts of the nation.
We can laugh about this, well at least I can, but at the same time it brings to mind some questions. As a follower of Jesus Christ, where does this sports world fit? I'm a proud member of the Y-chromosome club. I enjoy sporting events. I have my favorite teams. I have the hats, the shirts and the jackets with logos embroidered upon them. I enjoy going to the games. I like cheering for these athletes who do amazing things on the field of play.
So, does God care?
Does God have a favorite team?
There are a number of teams with religious names. Does that mean God likes them more? Is God a fan of the Saints, the Angels, the Padres or for my Catholic friends - the Cardinals? Or, as some have stated, is God a fan of the Denver Broncos because Tim Tebow is the quarterback?
I'm not a Tebow-basher. Neither am I big-time Tebow fan. I like him. I respect him. As a brother in Christ, I admire his willingness to verbally give glory to Jesus Christ. The Tebow story has pushed Christianity to the forefront of the sports page. This is why it's so interesting. Two of the nation's top religions are meeting - the religion of Christianity and the religion of sports.
I think this is why so many people have a problem with Tebow. Much has been said about "Tebowing" and his camera ready prayer poses. Tebow even reached a pinnacle in pop culture. He was parodied on Saturday Night Live.
Does God show favor to certain athletes or teams?
NO - God doesn't show favor as many would define it. God doesn't care that Team A beats Team B so that a person's Fantasy numbers will go up. God doesn't show favor so those who have bet on games can beat the spread. God doesn't love the Christian on Team A more than he loves the Christian on Team B.
YES - God does show favor on His children at times. This word "favor" has been used by some who teach a false prosperity gospel. This is not the biblical definition. A good biblical example of one in whom favor was shown is Daniel. There are others like Moses, John the Baptist, etc.
Whether God is showing favor on Tim Tebow or any other athlete can be debated at length. Regardless of the influence of God in a football game, there is only one reason He would show favor on anyone - that is to bring Himself glory.
I don't believe God cares if the Broncos win. I do believe God cares about Tim Tebow just as he cares and loves all His children (regardless what team they're on, or even if they never even make the team.)
Even the fictional coach in the film "Facing the Giants" understood this. Win or lose, God receives glory. He said this over and over.
I like this quote former University of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy made after his team was beat soundly by the University of Alabama in the 2009-2010 BCS National Championship Game. ABC reporter Lisa Salters interviewed McCoy and McCoy responded to a difficult question about how it felt watching the game from the sidelines, with the question alluding to how difficult it must have been that his college career ended so abruptly in the biggest game of his life.
Said McCoy: “I always give God the glory. I never question why things happen the way they do. God is in control of my life. And I know that if nothing else, I’m standing on the Rock.”
Win or lose - this is right response. To God be the glory.