I hate sin. In my life. In others’ lives. In our culture. In our world. This is who God graciously makes us in Christ – haters of sin and lovers of God. So, it has been with great sadness that I have followed the now over-exposed exploits of Tiger Woods. While the media circles like sharks around a bloody piece of bait, his adoring fans remain shocked and deeply disappointed. He was, and is, the world’s greatest golfer, an icon to millions of kids. His downfall is not something to rejoice over or even to gawk at like the news agencies so want you to do.
The question I wish to address here, however, is how can we use this episode, and others like it, as an avenue for sharing the gospel with our children, extended family, co-workers, peers, etc? Christians should not allow such opportunities to escape, for things like Tiger Woods’ escapades can really be springboards to discuss things that matter forever.
First, as Christians we ought to never be surprised by sin, whether it is in Tiger Woods, ourselves, or our neighbors. It amazes me how many Christians have expressed “shock” over Tiger Woods’ behavior. Really? I mean, you have read your Bibles, right?
“Can the Ethiopain change his skin, or the leopard change his spots? Then you who are accustomed to doing evil can also do good” (Jer 13:23).
“What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality . . .” (Mark 7:20-21).
Friends, we all have heart disease. It’s called sin. We are sinners by nature, in the very core of our beings. Tiger Woods was born a sinner. So was I (Ps 51:5). We sin because we are sinners. We act in character, if you will. And, if left unchecked by the grace of God, sin can cause any one of us to do, say and think ruinous things. Our sinful heart disease is terminal. It controls and masters us, enslaving us from the inside out (see Romans 6-8).
Second, Tiger Woods will not find mastery over his sin via Buddhism. Brit Hume is right. Only Jesus Christ offers what Tiger really needs. Buddhism is an atheistic religion, much like evolution / Darwinism (but that discussion is for another day). It is precisely the atheistic worldview that leads people to behave like Tiger has been. No God, no objective standard of right or wrong, no accountability, no worries beyond the grave = each individual determines what is “right for him or her.” Tiger’s sexual exploits were perfectly consistent with the atheistic Buddhist worldview.
Yet, oddly enough, Buddhists preach salvation through human self-effort. They strive to eliminate desires / craving via the 8 Fold Path laid out by their founder, the Buddha. The path includes things such as Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Effort and the such. How they determine “right” apart from an objective Law or Law-Giver that transcends all things is beyond me. And, how do you eliminate desire in your life by desiring the 8 Fold Path?
Add to this that Buddhists generally view suffering, and individual persons as merely illusions. None of it is real. This life is just a mirage. Tell that to Tiger’s wife and children. Tell it to the numerous women he treated as worthless pieces of animal meat. I wonder if Tiger himself really believes that he himself is just an illusion with a ginormous bank account?
Tiger does have a problem with desire, to be sure. SINFUL desires are ruling his heart and life. Sin masters us all, that is until Jesus breaks into our lives and enthrones Himself in our hearts. The only solution to sin is Jesus. Jesus experienced real suffering, bearing the real wrath of the real God in the place of real sinners like Tiger Woods, who rightly deserve God’s justice. And Jesus rose from the grave, conquering the great enemies of our souls, sin and death, forever. God out of His great love and mercy comes to people, convicting them of sin and their need of Christ, by the power and presence of His Spirit, and gifts them with repentance of sin and faith in the person and work of Jesus. God offers real forgiveness of real sin committed against a real God who is really holy. This forgiveness of sin cannot be earned or merited through self-effort.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:8-10).
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
Wow! There it is! Real power for real living. This is what Tiger Woods needs. He needs a new Master. He needs the Spirit of God living in him, enabling him to fight back against the sin in his heart and life. He needs to hear and know the truth, for the truth shall set him free. Freed to serve and please God, being empowered by His gracious Spirit and Word. Freed to say “no” to temptation. Freed to repent and trust the only person who is perfectly satisfying to God – Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God. Tiger, like everyone else, needs to be brought into union with Christ. He needs to be changed from the inside out. He needs a heart surgeon whose name is Jesus.
Let’s pray God puts people into Tiger’s path who will speak truth into his life, so that He can have the opportunity to escape the snare of sin, not just now, but for all eternity. May God help Tiger find The Way, instead of the 8-Fold Way. Let’s share this goods news of how a holy God has made a way to reconcile unholy people to Himself through the person and work of His Son, Jesus.
*For more information on Buddhism, visit www.4truth.net