So there's been some buzz this week about an SNL sketch about Tim Tebow and an exchange he had with Jesus while in the locker room discussing his team's recent six-game winning streak. I've seen some headlines screaming that Christians are very offended by this sketch. And I'm sure that some are.
But what if, instead of being defensive about the doctrinal issues, we took this as an opportunity to listen to what people are saying about Christians and Christianity? What if we take this very clearly characaturized sketch of something that's going on in our world and see what nuggets of truth we might be able to find about how what we say and do looks and feels like to people who don't believe in Jesus?
So Tim is portrayed as a person who's overeager to please Jesus, and as someone who is really over the top in how he talks about his faith. In fact "in your face" is used to described the way that he prays to Jesus about everything.
So my question is, what is it that SNL is highlighting here, and how does that reflect the feelings and beliefs of many people who have Christians in their lives? What is it that we are doing that is annoying or frustrating to people? Is any of that legitimate--does it highlight places where even Jesus would not be pleased?
In the sketch, even Jesus thinks that Tim's worship and prayer is over the top. But if you look at the stories of Jesus in the New Testament, stories where Peter and Martha declare him to be the Messiah, or the place where the blind man falls on his face to worship Jesus, I don't think you can conclude that Tim's worship and prayer are too far over the top for someone who recognizes who Jesus is and wants to honor him.
But what about the question of the balance between public and private worship? There are tons of stories that Jesus told about the pharisees vs. regular people--about people who do their acts of worship before God alone vs. those who worship in order to be seen.
And that's really a question of heart, right? Of intentions. And looking at other people, we can't know what their purpose is. We can't really know what Tim is thinking. Maybe he is really just thankful for the gifts he's been given, and maybe his prayers are all about praying that God will help him to honor Jesus in everything he says and does while the spotlight is on him. Only God knows his heart.
But we can certainly take this opportunity to question our own motives. Why do we pray in public before meals? Why do we talk about church and the Bible? Why do we share those stories about who Jesus is and what he has done for us? How do we approach it--from a position of power or a position of humility? What are we communicating about Jesus, about God, and about ourselves by the way in which we engage in worship?