No matter what you think about Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow or the public way he expresses his faith in God, what is certain is that he has helped spur discussions on what our lives are all about and where God is in all of it.
Unlike the Tebow-mania that America has seen over the past few weeks, God does not come upon us like the roar of a touchdown. As the prophet Elijah learned, God didn't come as an earthquake, a raging fire, or a howling wind, but as a gentle whisper. God still seeks us in still, small ways, prompting us to consider how we will respond.
That's what Tebow-mania represents for me: an opportunity to reflect, reassess and respond.
Those who believe should embrace chances like this to examine how we can make our faith more real and more meaningful in our lives and in our relationships with others. That's a chance I welcome and which I encourage others to pursue.
For those who have doubts or who simply just don't believe, I encourage them to entertain some fundamental questions anyway. Who is God? Is he real? If so, what does he have to do with me?
For as much time as we all put into faithfully reading the sports page or tracking investments, these questions pose the opportunity to consider deeper, eternal issues. While some may conclude they're not interested, at least they've asked the question.
Some have equated Tebow-mania with shoving beliefs down others' throats. I hope that's not what's happening -- I don't believe it is -- and I hope other believers think twice before joining that bandwagon. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum of belief, there's room for respect for those like Tim Tebow who succeed in inciting others to begin thinking about fundamental issues.
For me, faith is about the good news of having been given a chance to walk a path that allows me to be a better person and participate in something bigger than myself.
That "something bigger" is the work of God that occurs here and now on earth. We are all given the chance to use our unique gifts to help out those in our lives. When we open ourselves up to that, we're opening ourselves to letting God show his love to others. It's in how we treat our spouse. It's in how we help our neighbors. It's in our attitudes toward money and how we use it and resources like our time and energy to strengthen our community and others.
Unlike quarterbacks, God doesn't need defenders. He can take care of himself. Instead, he seeks to take care of us by guiding us toward paths of beliefs, choices and actions that make us whole and which empower us to help others become whole also. The great Hebrew prophet Micah described this as God's desire to see us act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with him. We all struggle with putting these ideals into practice, but it begins with considering our answers to the questions that come when we see people like Tim Tebow living and expressing their faith. What do we think? How do we respond?