Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tim Tebow, Easter and the cross

Tim Tebow has done many great things in his young life. He won the Heisman Trophy, two college championships, was a first round draft pick and led the Denver Broncos to an unexpected playoff win. Off the field, he is a champion, too, answering his critics with politeness and grace and giving his time to work with disabled children.

His greatest accomplishment, however, is Tebowing. His simple act of bowing in prayer after a touchdown spread like wildfire and people all over the world were mimicking his reverent posture. He created a meme. A meme is an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. Organizations of all types spend a lot of money in an attempt to create a meme.

Tebow created a Christian meme; a rare occurrence in our culture where we are more likely to imitate culture than to impact it. One example is the way t-shirt merchants take a well known secular brand and change the words in clever manner to create a religious message. (Intel inside becomes Jesus inside.)

Many churches today try to create a meme by finding the right name, logo and tagline that will make them stand out from all the other churches. Tebowing became a sensation because of Tebow's remarkable comeback wins not because of clever choreography. Likewise Christian memes are born out of extraordinary acts not because of clever marketing.

The most powerful meme of all is the cross. It is the universally recognized symbol of Christianity. We sing about it, preach on it, display it, wear it and make it part of our logos and our art. It was not chosen as part of a marketing plan. It emerged as a reminder of the price paid for our salvation.

Another powerful Christian meme is Easter. In the midst of colored eggs, bunnies, baskets, lilies and new clothes, the gospel stills breaks through. Churches will have their highest attendance of the year. People who come once a year will choose this. Some will be in your church for the first time. Your regulars will not miss this day. They come because they know that this is a day to celebrate our Christ.

There is power in that. Welcome those who come into your church this Sunday. Invite them to come back. It may have been awhile since you have seen many of them but they were drawn today by the resurrection power symbolized in Easter.

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