Earlier this week a colleague shared a story about a golf tournament he attended. During the tournament, he heard many of the players complaining about how the course wasn’t as nice as it used to be. Parts of it were overgrown. The grass was greener on other courses they’d seen. The paths had some potholes that made for a less-than-smooth cart ride, and so on. But then he noticed one player who didn’t seem bothered by the change in terrain. He just kept doing what he was there to do: play golf. “I think there’s a lesson in that,” my colleague said.
Yes, there is.
Our terrain has changed much in recent years. Challenges in our economy, politics, global conflict, racial-ethnic tensions, social and ethical dilemmas, and more have made for a bumpy ride. Some days it can feel easier to sit on the sidelines and complain than it is to get in the game.
Perhaps those most prone to this dynamic are those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, when the Church faces, not just external, but internal struggles – whether in our denominations, our local congregations, or both. We live in a season when fear, uncertainty, and dis-ease can be so paralyzing that we, too, are reluctant to get in the game. We may even forget there is a game to be played.
That’s what happens when we get so caught up in the “what if’s” that we forget the real question – the question of God’s sovereignty.
A few years ago, a friend from The Outreach Foundation spoke to our congregation about Muslim-Christian relations in the Middle East. The most pressing question people asked him was, “Is the situation in the Middle East as bad as it appears on the news, or better – or worse?” My friend replied, “CNN does not define reality; Jesus Christ defines reality.”
I’ve thought about that statement often in recent months, for it can be said of any situation today. Take any crisis, any fear, any worry, or concern – anything that speaks to the reality in which we find ourselves. Then fill in the blank: “_______ does not define reality; Jesus Christ defines reality.”
And his reality, the reality of the gospel, is this: Jesus Christ still sits on the throne. Either we believe this, or we don’t. If we believe this, then no other question ultimately matters. If we believe this, then whom shall we fear? Let’s get on with being disciples!
Let’s get back on the golf course. Not on the beautiful, well-groomed courses, but the ones that have long been neglected. The ones that are overgrown with weeds and potholes. The ones that need, not someone just to make it through 18 holes, but someone to really play.
Because of Jesus Christ, rather than just sitting on the sidelines saying, “Look what the world has come to,” you and I are free to get in the game saying, “Look who has come to the world” – by playing with all our heart and soul, all the joy and grace and hope of the gospel, all for the sake of the Kingdom.
It is a question of sovereignty. By which reality will we live: the reality to which the world would conform us, or the reality that Jesus desires to transform through us?
See you on the links.