I sat before my television like millions did on Friday, February 19, 2010 listening to acclaimed golfer Tiger Woods confess his infidelity and ask for forgiveness. I was struck by his articulate and seemingly honest admission and presentation. I respected his privacy and the way he was seeking to repair and manage the mess he had caused. I was reminded once again how broken we humans can be—even the shiniest and most polished among us can be so, so broken. As I listened, I felt grateful for how he was handling this tragic situation. But then, I felt disappointment and concern.
After myriad apologies, Tiger told the listening world he was raised a Buddhist, and actively practiced his faith from childhood. My disappointment was not in the fact that his faith differed from mine. I admire that Tiger is seeking faith or religion to help him. But, my concern was that his search may find him without the hope he is seeking. Tiger said; “Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside us causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint.” I certainly don’t know all the tenants of Buddhism-I claim no expertise. It is laudable Buddhism “teaches” him to stop following every impulse and learn restraint. But, it doesn’t “empower” him to do so.
That huge inequity breaks my heart. Tiger, like millions who follow Buddhism, do so with full sincerity. I respect their sincere search for truth. But, I need a religion that does more than “teach” me to be more than I am; I need a God Who “enables” me to be. I need a faith that not only teaches me, but empowers me to be more than I could be on my own. Left to myself, my very best is powerless to be disciplined. Without divine help, I’m incapable of not following all my impulses. Without the power of God’s Holy Spirit, I would have no restraint or reason for restraint. It is only the fruit of God’s Spirit within that enables a person to have self control. It is only the living presence of God in the life of Tiger Woods that will empower him to act with restraint and die to impulses. I write this with no judgment. We are ALL sinners—each one of us—me included! We are all needy seekers. I long for Tiger to receive what he really longs for—peace and restoration. He won’t “learn” peace and restoration from philosophy; he will only receive those from the hand of the living God.
From the reading I’ve done on Buddhism, it’s clear it has many virtues and many tenets to live by that contain elements of truth. But, philosophies that teach some truth enlighten you—they don’t empower you. Only “The Truth” empowers you. Jesus boldly claimed that He is The Way, The Truth and The Life. His claim may be audacious, but embracing it and Him has set me free. Because He is The Truth, I am empowered to walk in truth. Because He is The Way, I am divinely enabled to follow Him on a path of peace and purpose; because He is The Life, I live.
A philosophy is something you live by, but it will never give you life. Jesus came that you may have life. I guess I write this because there are a lot of “Tigers” in the world. There are so many broken but polished; seeking but misguided souls. Before Christ found me, I was one of them. Now I have peace. May no one read this and think I am condemning Tiger or Buddhists; I am humbly suggesting exploring the person of Christ who empowers rather than settling for a philosophy that enlightens.
“…for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you.” 1Chronicles 28:9