In his first ever NFL playoff game earlier tonight, Denver Broncos' Quarterback Tim Tebow passed for 316 yards, including a very impressive overtime play that beat the heavily favored Steelers.
Because Tebow is a very vocal Christian, some people have taken that statistic as some kind of sign from God, because 1 Timothy 3:16 says
"Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory."
This is kind of neat, but the problem is that some people are assuming that God rigged the game so that Tebow would pass for this exact number of yards to get people to check out this Bible verse.
I have a host of theological problems with this, not least of which is the idea that God gets intimately involved in the details of NFL games, due to Tebow's piety (which I believe is totally genuine and sincere), and yet refuses to lift a finger to stop tens of thousands of children from dying of hunger every single day.
Making that claim is basically saying that God cares very little for the world and is a complete narcissist- an idea that the biblical narrative does not present. You can cherry pick quite a few verses to make God seem very shallow and insecure, and lots of folks have done just that.
My own polemics aside, I'm a Bible nerd and a sports nerd, so I thought I'd follow this line of logic a bit further. There are a number of Quarterbacks in the NFL whose names are also books of the Bible. So I looked on ESPN at their passing yards from each game this season to see what else God may have been trying to tell us through the NFL. Here are some of the more interesting results.
Mark Sanchez- New York Jets
9/11 vs. Dallas Cowboys, 335 yards
Mark 3:35. Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.
Dan Orlovsky- Indianapolis Colts
12/22 vs. Houston Texans, 244 yards
Daniel 2:44. In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
Matt Hasselbeck- Tennessee Titans
9/25 vs. Denver Broncos, 311 yards
Matthew 3:11. I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
John Beck- Washington Redskins
10.16 vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 117 yards
John 1:17. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John Skelton- Arizona Cardinals
11/13 vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 315 yards
John 3:15 ...that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
11/27 vs. St. Louis Rams, 114 yards
John 1:14. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Sam Bradford- St. Louis Rams
11/27 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 203 yards
1 Samuel 2:3. Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed.
Matthew Stafford- Detroit Lions
1/1 vs. Green Bay Packers, 520 yards
Matthew 5:20. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Lastly, and this one's my favorite:
Tim Tebow- Denver Broncos
11/17 vs. New York Jets, 104 yards
1 Timothy 1:4. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.
Hmmm... maybe God is trying to say something through Tim Tebow's passing stats...