Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Buddha and Jesus: Homeboys

A recent article buried on caught my attention ( During an exclusive golf outing for top business and entertainment executives, Tiger Woods was apparently ambushed (interesting choice of words) by an evangelical Christian.

A "Tee It Up With Tiger Woods" gathering at the Trump golf course in Los Angeles included a private lesson and lunch with Tiger. During the lunch there was a Q & A session where guests, who were invited by Nike, Inc., the company that signed Tiger to a multi-year contract worth an estimated $105 million dollars in 2001, were allowed to ask Woods questions. Most guests asked Woods the predictable questions about golf. However, one gentleman stood up and said, "Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? And if not, prayerfully, would you?"

The reported indicates that the guests were mortified at the question and that "you could have heard a pin drop". Imagine the audacity of this man, asking Tiger Woods, arguably the best golfer of all-time, and who will likely become the first sports figure to ever earn over $1 billion dollars in career winnings and endorsements (in 9 years as a pro Woods has earned an estimated $547, 796, 176.00) whether or not he has a faith relationship with Jesus Christ.

Tiger responded publicly with impeccable cultural correctness. "My father was a Christian - of course Christianity was part of my life - but my mother is Asian and Buddhism was also part of my childhood, so I practice both faiths respectfully." So Buddha and Jesus are homeboys?

I am convicted by the boldness of the man who asked Tiger about his personal faith and spirituality. His status in Nike is shot. It is almost a certainty that he's guaranteed never to make the Nike guest list again. He did what I might may have thought about doing, but likely would have never done because I would have been too caught up in the hype of eating lunch with perhaps the greatest athlete of this generation. I wouldn't wanted to have risked offending Tiger. I admit I probably would have been posturing myself for a seat as close to Woods as I could, but it wouldn't (sadly) have been for the cause of Jesus that I wanted to be close to him. While I certainly believe a more effective evangelistic approach would be to befriend Tiger, build a credible relationship, and then look for less awkward opportunities to "ambush" Tiger with the good news about Jesus (what are the chances Tiger would want to be my friend, and thus afford me the opportunity? My golf game is atrocious), it's hard to be critical of this man's concern for Tiger's eternal destination.

And regarding Tiger's response, could you see the postmodern ooze dripping off his words? Anyone knowledgeable of the truth claims of the Christian faith realize that it is impossible to practice Christianity and any other faith respectfully (at least not in the eyes of the God each faith claim worships). The God of the Old and New Testament, the Maker of heaven and earth, the One who holds all things in His hand and has numbered the hairs on Tiger's head, the number of golf championships he will win, and the number of days he will breath, will not share His glory with another (Isa. 48:11).

I hope Tiger thinks about this man's question. Can you imagine a four-some of Jesus, Tiger, me and anyone else on the other side of eternity? But tragically, unless someone who cares enough about Tiger to risk the offense of the Gospel, he will likely continue to believe that he can practice both Christianity and Buddhism respectfully in honor of his parents. And if that is the case, unlike Tiger's dominance on the most difficult golf courses in the world, that's a course that Tiger will never be able to successfully conquer.


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