December 9, 2011
Tebow, Jesus, and Praying in Public
Do public displays of devotion violate Jesus' teaching?
If you are not a fan of football (or prayer), then you may be unaware of Tim Tebow. The young quarterback for the Denver Broncos has been outspoken about his faith in Christ. But what has been causing a stir on the field (other than his playing) has been his routine of kneeling for prayer. The sight of Tebow on one knee with head bowed has become so common fans have actually coined the word "Tebowing" to describe it, and a new website has been dedicated to photos of others Tebowing in pubic. (Check out Tebowing.com.)
But not everyone is happy about Tim Tebow's P.D.D. (public displays of devotion). The Daily Beast blogger and political commentator, Andrew Sullivan, questions whether Tebow is violating Jesus' teaching with his public prayer ritual. Citing Jesus' words in Matthew 6, Sullivan says:
"Prayer is not supposed to be a public event, designed to display your holiness in front of the maximum number of people.... Why does a Christian publicly repudiate the God he worships? And how has the reverse of Jesus' teachings become the orthodoxy?"
What do you think of Tim Tebow's on the field prayers? Is Sullivan right? Is he disregarding Jesus' call to pray privately? Or is Tebow simply following Jesus' words in Matthew 5 to "let your light shine before others"? And how should we be thinking about public acts of devotion in general, especially as our culture becomes increasingly post-Christian?