(Note: posted an update located here on Feb 19 after Tiger’s press conference.)
I’m a Tiger Woods groupie (well, not in the most recently reported sense). I guess I should say I have been a groupie in the golf sense since he won his last U.S. Amateur titled and blew onto the PGA tour in the mid 90s. I’ll never forget the putt on the first hole of a three hole playoff with Bob May at the 2000 PGA Championships. He charged after the putt pointing it – willing it – into the hole. Amazing.
Of course Tiger is now totally disgraced, the butt of jokes and today sits on a boat floating somewhere near the Bahamas. His sexcapades are the talk of tabloids and mainstream media. Whereas many people couldn’t touch him on a golf course, they now liberally fire condescending criticism at him with the accuracy Tiger fires at difficult pin placements on Sundays at majors. I find it all to be pious and self-righteous.
I can’t seem to get Tiger off my mind, probably because we bought a Wii and Tiger Woods 2010 the day before news broke of his “traffic accident.” Every time I play I think about what the guy accomplished and about what has been flushed down the toilet. It reminds me how close I am to flushing my life down the toilet because of the carnal nature that battles for prominence in my life. Wish I could say I was an exception, but there really is nothing exceptional about the evil inclinations in the human heart. Whether we admit it or not there is a bit of Tiger in us all. In fact, we don’t know – and if we did are totally unwilling to admit – what we are capable of. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Paul spends the first three chapters of Romans talking about the sickness of the human heart and spends a good part of Chapter 5 explaining to us the spring from which our sin flows. Our hearts have been wicked nearly from the beginning, which makes us enemies with a holy God. He cannot allow it, has to punish it, and spiritually filthy people can’t do anything about it. What are we to do?
Absolutely nothing, except repent and believe.
God did something on our behalf and this is why I can’t think of Tiger without thinking of Christmas. An angel appears to some shepherds and speaks the most significant words ever spoken – words Tiger needs to hear: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). If God is to save Tiger – or you, or me – there had to be Christmas. He didn’t have to send Jesus to this world as a baby to grow to a man to die for the sins of the world, but in extravagant love he chose to. Literally, Immanuel, God with us. The good news of Christmas is that a Savior was born. The good news of Christmas is that regardless of what Tiger has done he can be set free from his sin. So can you.
Yes, it is easy to fire heat seeking missiles at Tiger, but what we each need is to – in great humility – admit we are spiritual failures – like Tiger – and this Christmas embrace the good news of a born Savior.