I was playing golf for the gospel this morning. No really!
The problem with my golf is that I am always ridiculously optimistic. I expect to be able to play shots like a professional, on the basis of no talent and no practice. I should realise that I am the sort of golfer who measures the quality of his play not on the number of shots played but on the number of balls he's lost. I was quite happy today. It was a only a 3 ball round!
The reason that I find golf an emotional struggle is that I have glorious unrealistic expectations based on one or two good shots that I fluke (or the Lord blesses me with miraculously!) from time to time. If I would just admit how bad I was, then I would be far less frustrated.
Of course there is another way of dealing with the bad shots. Blame something else!
It's my elderly clubs. I will play a shot and then look at the club head in disgust, as though an inanimate object has in some way taken a dislike to my perfect swing and sent the ball flying off course. Or it's the wind. As if the slight breeze has caused my shot to turn at right angles to the direction I was facing.
The problem with blaming other things is that in the end it doesn't help me feel better or deal with the problem. I'm bad at golf.
I think humanity has a golf type problem. In general people refuse to accept the evidence about their ability to live life in a way that makes the world work. The news of today and the history of the past demonstrate that people cannot run their lives, their families or their societies in a way that is loving, fair and benefits all. But we'd rather blame other things.
It's the education problem. With the right education people will pull life off. It's the diet problem. With the right fruit and veg people will find inner peace. It's the religion problem. Without all those warmongering religions, like Christianity, people will stop fighting. A belief that ignores the fact that atheistic regimes in the 20th century were some of the most brutal.
We do the same thing with our personal failures. There's a never ending list of reasons why it wasn't our fault: "I'm tired." "You started it!" "I had a difficult day at work!" "It's that time of the month!" "My blood sugar is low!"
The Bible has a very simple answer. It's the sin problem. And unless we are willing to admit that we will be either driven to despair or forced to deny the reality of our lives and our world. The apostle John says:
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)
The irony is that when we admit what we're really like we find freedom in the loving forgiveness of God. We find security in a God who sent his Son to die for us. We find peace in the knowledge that we cannot lose His love because we did not earn His love. And we find the transforming power of His Spirit in us.
Because unlike golf, where I have no hope of channelling the inner Tiger Woods, the promise of the Bible is that God makes me more like Jesus. Day by day he brings His word to bear on my heart and changes my selfish character by the power of His Spirit.
But like golf, change begins each day with admitting how bad I really am.