Friday, December 11, 2009

Catch a Tiger by the Tail

I have to say something. Tiger, Tiger, Tiger! What were you thinking? Well, he wasn't of course. Had he been thinking, he would not have done what he has done. He has allowed desire to over ride his brain.

The truth is that Tiger Woods will continue on. He might lose his marriage and a bag of money. But, he will probably go on and become the greatest golfer of all time with the most majors. Most of his sponsors will likely stay with him. He will manage the PR to ensure minimum damage to his brand. He will go on Oprah, he will claim sex addiction, he will engender compassion for his problems. He will possibly even come out smelling of roses. I have heard for example, some saying that he seems human now. He is like us all!

Well the truth is, he is not like us all. Yes, he is human; yes we are all prone to failure as I indeed am. But to have God knows how many affairs with a beautiful wife and kids a home, is not something many of us have done, nor would we contemplate doing it.

So what is our response? Here's some thoughts.

First, what he has done cannot be condoned and merely written off as him being a man. It is not justifiable. He has committed a tremendous wrong. It is tragic. He has been exposed as a man with a double life. He is a great golfer, but a terrible husband with a dreadful problem.
Secondly, his legacy will never be the same again. Many will overlook it. However, those who understand what really matters in this world will see through him. What matters is our character, our values. The measure of these things is our marriage and families. While he may be the greatest golfer ever, he can never hope to be considered a great man. He is a tragic man who can lie to and deceive those closest to him. His integrity is irrevocably violated. Like Shane Warne, his reputation is forever tarnished.
Thirdly, it shows us again what matters in this world. We need to get our priorities in order. Fame, glory, money, sex, power, charisma, looks, charm, talent; all these things seem so seductive, so important, so to be sought, the things that matter most. Yet, they are not. Better to sacrifice these things for love, mercy, compassion, integrity, truth, fidelity, consistency. We are not to have hidden lives like this. We are to be "what you see is what you get people." And what you see should be laced with the values of the gospel.
Where are these found? In the Scriptures in the 10 Commandments, in the writings of the prophets, in the Sermons on the Mount and Plain, in the fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5, in the love chapter of 1 Cor 13 and so on. Most especially they are to be found in Christ who showed us what it meant to be the complete package. He had the charisma, the power, the talent; so much so, he could lay hands or speak to another and raise them from death or heal them of disease. What power! Yet, he refused to use them for monetary gain. He renounced using them for power or personal aggrandisement. He did not use them to get hot girls, take them back to his tent, and secretly get it on. He sought to love, but in the true sense of the word. He preferred to die than violate the principle that what matters above all, is love. That is why he wouldn't do signs for those who demanded it. No hot marketing campaigns, cool brand names for Jesus. No seeking the limelight. You don't find Jesus in the Decapolis, Sepphoris, Tiberius or other big cities. Nor did he do most of his work in Jerusalem, aside from attendance at festivals and his death. He chose the wilderness, the little towns, places like Capernaum. He preferred to get away from all the glitz and glamour. He was determined to use his wonderful talents for others and their good.

One of my favourite passages in Scripture in this regard is 1 Cor 13:1-3. We all love the next bit defining love with 15 verbs. Well, the first three verses are glorious. Paul lists a series of wonderful spiritual gifts. He starts with those the Corinthians love, like tongues and wisdom. These achieve nothing without love. He climaxes the section with two others. One is to give all we possess to the poor. Another is to give our bodies over that we might boast (not as some manuscripts say "in order that I might burn", this is an interpolation). Giving what we possess to the poor is the greatest act of love isn't it? Isn't there no greater love than to give oneself up for a friend (Jn 14)? Yet, Paul tells us that even these are worthless without love. Even the greatest of Christian gifts are nothing without love.
This is shocking and stunning stuff to make the point. What matters is not charisma, power, money, sexual prowess, personal glory or even flawless religious ritual etc. What matters is selfless service for others motivated out of love. Our hearts are what matters.
Tiger is an object lesson to us who follow Christ. The illusion of this world is exposed through him. Yes, we can be the greatest sportsman of our generation, the best of the best perhaps. We can have it all: the wife, the family, the millions, the fame, the glory, the world at our fingertips. Yet, if we do not live by the right values, empowered by the true humanity that is love, it is exposed and we are nothing.
My prayer for Tiger is that he comes back. That he seeks help. That he does not do it to make himself look good, to manage his PR. Rather, that he gets on his knees before God, repents, turns from this clearly serious problem, and give his all to his God and his wife and kids. I pray he finds that place of integrity and consistency. It is a tough ask, but it can be done. You see, our God is a God of second chances (and third, fourth, fifth...). There is a path back to integrity or Tiger but it will not be easy. Can he do it at all? Will he do it genuinely? I hope so for his sake.

My other prayer is for his wife and kids. Marrying into a world like Tiger's is a tough ask for anyone. Being raised in the limelight as his kids are must be horrendous. I pray god holds them all in the palm of his hand and that they find him in the mess. 


Anonymous said...

Often the hardest person to forgive is yourself, so a prayer I would add from experience is that he is able to do this ... it can be a hindrance to accepting Gods forgiveness that is essential.

(i can assure you that accepting forgiveness is not that the same as condoning what you did)

Anatoly said...

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