"Tiger Woods is an ass.” This was a text message I received on Thanksgiving weekend in 2009. Days before the story of Tiger Woods’ infidelity went public. During that time I heard a lot of people say negative things to say about him. Sadly, many of those who had the worst things to say were Christians.
At one level, it’s understandable. He was an easy target. Up until that time he was at the height of global stardom and fame. On the golf course he seemed unbeatable. There were so many moments when he would make the perfect shot or sink the long putt to win. You could never count him out of any tournament.
Then, in a moment that was all gone for him. The pictures of his wrecked SUV, the voicemail that went viral and all the gossip that settled like choice morsels into our stomachs. The world wondered how a man who had it all could do what he did.
That was the moment that Christians should have really started rooting for Tiger Woods. Sure it would be great if he kept winning. It would be nice to see him in the final round in his trademark red shirt and black pants pumping his fist after a clutch birdie. But that’s not what we should rooting for.
In 2009 Tiger Woods did a face plant. Because of his many wrong choices his world fell apart. The man who once seemed invincible was now a wounded human being.
It amazes me how many Christians are willing to criticize those who have fallen. It seems that the Christian army are far too willing to shoot the wounded.
But shouldn’t we be the first ones to come alongside those who have fallen to show mercy, love, grace and compassion? Of all people in this world, shouldn’t Christians always root for restoration?
Central to the Christian faith is the claim that all men and women are sinful and broken, but through God’s mercy they are on the mend and experiencing new life. Those who follow Jesus claim God’s saving grace and forgiveness. Why is it then, so many seem unable or unwilling to give it?
What we can never forget is that at the heart of God’s grace is the rule that we can only receive it if we are willing to be made into its agents. What has happened to us must be done by us.*
This past Sunday, Tiger once again provided some excitement on the course. He had an impossible shot on the 16th hole. He had to make it, and he did. The crowd went bonkers, and the excitement was tangible. He went on to win his 73rd PGA event tying him with the legend, Jack Nicklaus.
As I sat and watched it I found myself rooting for him and cheering him. Perhaps it's time to really start rooting for Tiger. Not just that he’d win more tournaments. Our prayer ought to be that his wins off the course would be far greater than anything we’ve seen in a final round of a tournament.
*A paraphrase of from Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf, page 129
Michael Hidalgo is the Lead Pastor of Denver Community Church, and lives with his wife and children in downtown Denver, CO. He blogs regularly at A View From a Point . Follow Michael on Twitter @michaelhidalgo.