I did something today I’ve not done in over 30 years of preaching Gospel Meetings. I played golf with the local preachers - and I remembered why I’ve not done that in over 30 years :)! Nothing wrong with golf, it provides a little exercise and a lot of frustration.
I wonder if the problem I have with golf is not the same problem many people have with Christianity. The problem I have with golf is not that I don’t understand it and it’s rules. In fact the problem is that I do understand it and it’s rules.
But I enjoy golf. Well, I’ve enjoyed it lately. See, when our Andrew moved back to Middle Tennessee we started buying some of these internet golf deals from Groupon, Living Social and Sweet Jack and trying to play golf if the weather was nice and we both had the time once every few weeks. And I’m loving it. I’m loving it cause we don’t play by the rules and we don’t play under pressure. Here are some of our “rules”:
On the “front nine” you get up to three shots from the t-box. On any shot you can hit a provisional ball. Lost balls do not count. If your “lie” is not good you can toss out for a better one. We won’t tae more than a “9” on any hole. On the back nine we play the best ball from the tees - but you only get one shot. We “speed golf” the back nine. Our goal is to break 100 which we’re doing regularly. Now, for a golf purist, you are probably looking for a good 9 iron to chase us down and beat us with. They’d say we are cheating and that what we are playing in not golf at all. But, for us, it’s a game and we are out there to enjoy it. No, to enjoy each other. We know we’re breaking the rules but it’s just us two and we are breaking them together and with knowledge that the other person is. We end up amazed if we get a birdie or even par and it’s especially when we can say “that was a ligament par.” It’s often said with SHOCK :). The problem is that we have to police ourselves else we end up with no rules at all and it takes any fun out of competing and we don’t get any better.
I suspicion that the reason many don’t practice Christianity is the same reason I avoid public golf. They know the rules, the expectations and it’s a whole lot easier to “play a different game” in life. Just as it’s easier for me to “golf” with Andrew, it’s easier for them to hang out in bars, or to just avoid churches.
But if I could turn this already too long post I’d suggest that they don’t understand goal of Christianity. See, I golf with Jesus. Well, not really, but I want you to get the point here. The purpose of golf for me is to bring me and Andrew together. And in the same way, the purpose of Christianity, with it’s rules and church and all is really to bring us to Christ. The end of rule keeping is not that you become a good rule keeper but that they make us more like Jesus. Please note that I'm not minimizing obeying the commandments of Christ - not a one of them is burdernsome or designed for anything but our good and our growth. But if the emphasize law over Lord then we won't get many people to ride in the cart with us. If we can help people fall in love with Jesus then they will want to obey His Words.
I know the analogy doesn’t completely hold up but we might do well to consider our “approach shots” in talking with those who do not understand Christianity and help them understand grace and the purpose of faith.