In episode 10 of Saturday Night Live’s 37th Season, a skit aired that caused a lot of controversy. In the skit, Jesus appears to the Denver Broncos in their locker room and tells the team that indeed he is the reason they’ve won their last 6 football games, but they need to start doing some work themselves because he can’t be there all the time. Jesus knows Tebow prays to him before every game but what he needs to do along with that is stretch and read the playbook. Jesus just doesn’t have the time to come in and save them at the 4th quarter of every game.
Jesus then says it’s great that Tebow thanks God so much, but who they really should be thanking is their kicker Matt Prater. Then the dialogue is as follows:
Jesus: Matt Prater, I pray to you brother.
Matt Prater: You pray to me? I didn’t know that.
Jesus: Yeah, you know, uh, that’s because I’m not in everyone’s face about it. (He says this while giving an accusing look at Tim Tebow)
Jesus tells the team that he basically just goes where people call on him. He decides most NFL games, the CMA awards, and shows up at any black event where food is served. He then says, “Sorry, I’m forgiven” for making the statement about black people.
Jesus warns that the New England Patriots will be tough to beat and said that if he is the son of God that Tom Brady must be God’s nephew while comparing the Patriots coach, Bill Belichick, to the devil.
Many Christians understandably found this skit blasphemous. The complaint from most was that Jesus wasn’t treated with much reverence at all in this skit and was basically used to make jokes about Tim Tebow’s faith.
I understand why people of faith are so upset, but I honestly find a lot of humor and even some prophetic imagination in the skit. This skit was not portraying the real Tim Tebow nor was it portraying the real Jesus Christ. They were showing caricatures of what happens when people “pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners” (Matthew 6:5)
Think about how many times on the CMA or MTV music awards someone thanks their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for letting them win an award for their songs about cheating on a spouse, glorifying drug use, objectifying women, and condoning patriotic violence. How many times to sports stars thanks their God and then head off to a drug filled orgy.
Also, when the statement was made that Tebow needs to spend a little less time in the word and a little more time in the playbook I was reminded of my college days when so many of us “pious” religion majors would use our spiritual life as an excuse to slack off on our homework.
Now, I’m certain that Tim Tebow is no slacker and spends as much time in the playbook as he does the Bible. You don’t get to where he is without hard work. He seems like a decent, kind, authentic person who glorifies God in all he does and that’s awesome. Most of us will never have even one conversation with the Tim Tebow so we are not in a position to judge. And, it could be that SNL is simply poking fun at Christians but I think something more is going on.
Could it be that SNL simply called those of us who are Christians to be accountable to the God we serve? After all, wasn’t it Jesus who told us, “when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Mathew 6:6).
I personally have to thank the people at SNL for reminding me that as a Christian I will do my best work in secret. If Christians of faith were offended by this skit then maybe we needed to be. Let’s not forget that God can use anyone he wants to get the message out, even SNL. God used this irreverent skit to speak to my heart about my prayer life. I don’t think SNL’s point was to mock people of faith, but even if it was, let’s not forget what Joseph said in Genesis 50:20: “You meant it for evil, but God intended it for good”. Galatians 6:7 tells us that it isn’t possible for God to be mocked. It’s arrogant to think that a God so great could ever be threatened by small creatures like us. Let’s not miss what the Holy Spirit may be saying to us through this media moment that we will forget about in a matter of days.
Let’s pray for Tim Tebow as lives his faith before the world. Pray that he has lots of good people to keep him accountable because Christianity is not a lone ranger religion. He’s just a human and we need to be careful that we don’t put him or any other human up on a pedestal.
Let’s pray for ourselves too and how we present ourselves to the people in the media. When Christians get offended so easily it just shows them how right they were. How insecure are we in what we believe that we can’t take a joke? Instead, shouldn’t we take offense at the things in scripture that offend God? I don’t think SNL makes the list. God help us if we are only calling on Him at ball games and award shows.
Proverbs 6: 16-19 (NIV)
16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.