Woods at 4-under after first round; received well in much-anticipated return read the Associated Press headlines this morning. A more up to the moment report on ESPN this afternoon had Tiger at 6-under par and the debate continuing about his immoral behavior/poor role model and his positive reception by golf fans at Augusta National. One of the commentators was saying that people just don't care about his morals; all they want to do is view and admire a good game of golf. Others want to see Tiger at least booed with every swing of the club, or banished from public life altogether at worst. His every move on the course is being scrutinized for signs that his anguish might be affecting his golf game. In the end, the conclusion was, "....Woods looked every bit the same golfer Thursday when he opened with a 4-under 68 - his best ever first round at Augusta National..."
Through the third lens of Scripture: Several things come to mind when reading today's paper and when checking in on the mid-afternoon standings in the Masters. Included in the mix are a jumble of thoughts stemming from keeping limited tabs on the Tiger Woods saga since last November. First, there is the dangers that accompany a successful/popular life, lived in the spotlight of public opinion. Jesus pronounces three woes on such people. These are pronouncements of judgment to those who continue therein and warnings to get out. "But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets." (Luke 6:24-26) Speaking of people who have been given much (and certainly Tiger has been given much) the Bible says, "...From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48b)
Secondly, to all of those who rush to judgment (and here I am not talking about the spiritual man who judges sin as sin - see 1 Cor. 2:15), there is this warning: "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Corinthians 10:12) "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive,and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37) Thirdly, do not be surprised, for the Bible gives an accurate picture of the moral climate in the last days. "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them." (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
I have no idea how many of these indictments apply to Tiger, and frankly I don't care. Even if he had lived within the bounds of marital fidelity, and even if he gave half of his fortune to the poor, he would have had to come face to face with the same fact that you, me and every person on planet earth has to: "...There is no one righteous, not even one......for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:10,23) Tiger has by no means been reduced to poverty, but God has allowed him to see a multi-million dollar shrinkage in his fortune. It may be His means of grace in getting this message to him: "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is uncertain, but to put their hope in God..." (1 Timothy 6:17) Perhaps this will open Tiger's heart, not to some false hope of Buddhism, but to the fact that "...the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
One thing seems certain: that Tiger Woods has not lost his golfing skill. Two things are certain: 1) great golfers like Tiger, Arnold and Jack and duffers like me are all sinners, and can never earn our way into heaven (even if we have millions to pay); 2) "[God] wants all men (including Tiger Woods, whose sins have been so well publicized) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:3-4) I don't know about you - maybe you find golf boring, or the waste of a good walk - but as for me, I intend to watch a few rounds of the Masters and pray for Tiger's salvation. Who knows, maybe he'll stumble across this blog.