Well it’s hard not to miss all the media attention Tiger Woods has generated in a matter of a few days. Equally noticeable is the flurry of Christian responses to how we should respond to his fall. Not surprisingly the call, and the right call, is for us not to stand arrogant and to think that we are any better. There are so many passages in scripture which speaks to this issue. We need to be humble and to pray for this man’s restoration and reconciliation with his wife and family.
So really there is nothing more to add to this. I guess the only thing I’d say is that, unlike anything else, the fall of someone so well respected as Woods, unfortunate and tragic as it is, draws a sharp and clear distinction between the gospel and the world.
What is the normal response from our community to Woods’ fall? On the one hand there are those who are completely indignant, furious, outraged and have lost all respect for him. They have looked to him as a good role model but now have felt totally betrayed by the revelation of his sins. As far as they’re concerned they don’t want to have anything to do with him ever again. There is no mercy, no grace and no forgiveness.
On the other hand there are those who, while they are do not like or agree with what he has done, are nevertheless prepared to overlook it. They argue that because he has contributed so much to the golfing world and to charity, and since no one is perfect we should be prepared to give him a second chance.
The first response takes his transgression seriously and for this reason there is no hope but only continuing shame and condemnation.
In the second response there is hope of salvation but only by ignoring the seriousness of his transgression and the enormous hurt he has done to his family.
This is the conundrum our community finds itself in. It can only take sin seriously and thus condemn the sinner and with no hope of salvation, or else it provides salvation for the sinner, but only by ignoring or down playing the seriousness of the sin and the damage done to others.
In either case there is no justice or no salvation and ultimately no good news.
Over and against this stands the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ, for it offers BOTH Justice AND Salvation. In the gospel the sinner is soundly condemned yet at the same time there is the offer of real forgiveness. What Woods did was wrong and heinous. God condemns such actions without question. Yet at the same time God offers real forgiveness and grace. How does he combine the two? Because it is in the cross of Christ that God pours out his anger on the sinner. Yet it is in the same cross that God pours out his forgiveness to all who would repent and come to Him for forgiveness. I think this is nicely captured in the words of Paul the Apostle.
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished– he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Romans 3:25,26
This passage reminds us that the cross not only brings about our justification but also demonstrates God’s justice.
So back to all the talk about Woods. As mentioned in the beginning, the unfortunate fall of Tiger Woods makes clear the distinction between our community and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How do we respond? I think there are two ways to respond.
To those who want Tigers’ blood we need to show them there is always forgiveness and salvation in the cross of Christ.
To those who want to tell us to overlook his transgressions and to think about all the good he has done we need to remind them that God did not overlook it but took our sins so seriously that he was prepared to kill his one and only own son because of our sins, Tiger Woods included.
In the gospel both Justice and salvation meet. And isn’t that what the good news of the Lord Jesus is all about?