A few weeks ago, a pastor was reported as saying he knew why the Denver Broncos were 7-1 since installing Tebow as quarterback. "It's not luck," the pastor said. "Luck isn't winning six games in a row. It's favor. God's favor." The pastor seems to have skipped a few theology classes.
To be fair, the player himself made no such outrageous claims. And later the pastor claimed to have been misrepresented. But there has been no shortage of sloppy touchdown theology thrown around, especially after Sunday's dramatic win. Surely there are other Christians praying just as hard on other teams. And what about the players of other religions?
Do people really think God is sitting up in Heaven on a Barcalounger, with a beer, a bratwurst and a Bronco's jersey, handing out touchdowns? Do God and Jesus support the same team? And if not, then which team does the Holy Spirit work through?
Does Mary, the sports fan, sit glued to the heavenly television set while resentful Martha makes chicken wings and guacamole in the kitchen for the Disciples? During commercial breaks, does Jacob wrestle the angel for the remote?
My guess is that God delights in prayers of all kinds, whether they come from the cathedral, the mosque, the meeting house, the exam room, the doctor's office, the traffic jam, the homecoming dance or the football field. All prayers and praise are welcome.
But as for touchdowns, skillful surgeons, happy first dates and fast lanes, those are human affairs. God doesn't reward one player with a touchdown and curse another. God gives us the instructions on how to withstand the hard times, and how to withstand the good times, with these wise words from Micah: Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.
Here is my prayer for a little perspective in strange times like these:
God, let my successes bring glory to you and to others. Let my failures prepare me for whatever is next. Don't allow either one to define me. Or you, for that matter. Amen.