"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."
--The words of Christ, as quoted in Matthew 6:1, The Bible, New International Version.
By MARC McDONALD
Denver Broncos football star Tim Tebow seems like a nice, likeable fellow. It seems harsh to say anything negative about him.
But for years, Tebow has been outspoken about his Christian faith, instead of keeping it (as millions of Christians do) as a personal, private matter. Indeed, with his extremely public displays of prayer, Tebow wants the whole world to know that he's a Christian. And frankly, if you take a look at the actual words of Jesus Christ, it becomes clear that Christ regarded people like Tebow as hypocrites.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers the following definition for hypocrite: "a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings."
Now, let's turn to the Bible and look at the actual words of Christ in Matthew 6:5-15. This is one of those Bible passages that I've never, ever seen any mainstream or evangelical "Christian" quote.
In fact, the vast majority of "Christians" always carefully tiptoe away from this passage and just try to pretend it doesn't exist. It shouldn't really surprising why. The passage very clearly questions the need for organized church services---and, for that matter, churches, period. Given that churches are an enormously profitable (and tax-free) cash cow that sustain the gigantic industry known as organized religion, it shouldn't be surprising that most "Christians" ignore Matthew 6:5-15.
Matthew 6:5-15 quotes Christ's actual words and reads as follows:
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But 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."
The fact is, Christ very clearly disapproved of public displays of prayer. In fact, he specifically called people who do so "hypocrites."
This year, Tebow has captured endless headlines and publicity for his trademark habit of "Tebowing" (kneeling and praying) during key moments of football games. As a result, tens of millions of NFL viewers have repeatedly watched Tebow pray during football games.
It's difficult to imagine a more high-profile, public way of praying than "Tebowing." Tebow is not content with simple prayer in private. Instead he turns it into a "Hey, look-at-me!" public spectacle, before the television cameras.
Whatever one thinks of this spectacle, it's clear that Tebow is completely ignoring Christ's own words about how to pray. Once again: Jesus said when you pray, you should go into your room and close the door and pray in secret. To do otherwise, as Jesus notes, is to be an attention-seeking "hypocrite."
Speaking of hypocrisy, Tebow recently signed a contract that will pay him tens of millions for playing football in the years to come. Whatever one thinks of the inflated, obscene pay packages that today's pampered athletes make, there's one thing that is clear: once again Tebow has been ignoring the words of Christ that condemn wealth.
In Mark 10:21, Jesus states that the only way a rich person can enter heaven is to sell all his assets and give the money to the poor. And in Matthew 19:24, Jesus says that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says, "You cannot serve both God and money."
These are three Bible passages that quote Jesus and that specifically condemn mega-millionaires like Tebow. The Bible, in fact, is full of passages that condemn wealth (which is the reason that the early Christians, as described in the Book of Acts, lived a socialist lifestyle).
Tebow may well regard himself as a fine, upstanding Christian. But his version of "Christianity" in fact has little to do with the actual words of Christ.
And it's also clear that Christ himself would have regarded Tebow as a hypocrite.