>So after a week of talking about golf and the Gospel (not necessarily trying to relate the two), I think an attempt to link the two is warranted. So here’s my first run at how golf reminds me of the Gospel. I’ll give it in the form of short golf tips as if I was instructing you on the game of golf.
1. “The harder you swing, the less likely you are to hit it pure.” The Gospel confronts our innate tendency to save ourselves. It seems that at every turn, I want to defend myself or rationalize my standing before God. I can fool myself into thinking that my failures are simply because I didn’t try hard enough or wasn’t vigilant. I excuse my lack of holiness by simply recommitting my life to do better or try harder. The Gospel says NO. The Gospel says that my standing before God is secured by what Jesus has done, and the Gospel calls me to surrender more, to be dependent more, and that in weakness is the way to “hit it pure”.
2. “You’ve got to set yourself up to make a good swing.” A good golf swing requires a good grip, good stance, and good posture. These set you up for a good swing (although it doesn’t guarantee it). Likewise, the Gospel sets us up to make a good swing. It doesn’t let us off the hook by saying that our outward actions don’t matter. In fact, the Gospel sets us up to be in a place of true authenticity by securing our identity and giving us courage to step out boldly in faith. The Gospel releases us to pursue genuine character – the kind of character that represents someone who is now living in the kingdom. By faith in Jesus and repentance, God promises us the Holy Spirit to empower us and to motivate to live holy lives. The Spirit is essential to a fruitful life.
3. “This game is so much more enjoyable with playing partners.” I can’t think of many people who enjoy playing golf by themselves. I’ve done it on occasion for practice, and I don’t find nearly the same joy in it. Needless to say, the Christian life was meant to be lived out and experienced in community – a community that the Gospel creates and energizes as diverse people come to experience a communal grace.
4. “You’ve to play to your own par.” We can spend so much time comparing ourselves to others that we lose the gratitude and contentment for how far God has brought us.
5. “Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.” The way to groove a good swing is to practice, practice, practice. Hand positions, transition, takeaway, stance, etc. In the same way, I have been reflecting on how the Gospel gives us power through His Spirit to form our character (see N.T. Wright’s book, After You Believe). Wright defines character as the power of right habits – that is, learning to live a life that anticipates the coming kingdom kind of life now. It’s about training ourselves through the power of the Spirit and the grace of God a thousand times so that on the thousand and first time, we choose holiness as a matter of second nature. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about this in the near future.
Well, I’ll end these reflections there. Obviously, there’s so many more ways to apply the Gospel. It’s just amazing to me how there are echoes of this true myth everywhere if only we’ll stop to observe and reflect.