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Golfing and True Religion

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 NIV

About thirty years ago, I decided I wanted to take up golf and played reasonably often, but I never invested the interest, time, and money to improve. Years later, I find myself playing less frequently, my stroke is inconsistent, and my putting atrocious. Though I still play perhaps once a year–usually after seeing the clubs purchased so lovingly for me by Janice–sitting forlornly in the corner of the utility room, I've resigned myself to being a duffer. Don't misunderstand, I enjoy that once-a-year outing to the green, but I don't love it. I have realized that I don't play more frequently because I lack passion for the sport.

Today's verse is about not simply accepting Christ as our savior, but true religion is pursuing his identity with passion. It is in knowing the heart of Christ and living his example. Limiting our Christian experience to only attending Sunday service is like playing golf once a year. It's essential to make that initial step to get ourselves on the course, but we will only grow in mastery if we are fully committed and make the investment.

Golfers may take lessons from a pro and go to the driving range to apply the newly learned techniques. Likewise, our spiritual growth comes from listening to and observing the way of Jesus. In our reading, studying, and meditation of scripture, and through prayer, we begin to understand the mind of God the Father and his will for us. Through Jesus, God made flesh; we have the example of how the sinless Jesus loved and cared for humanity. Desiring to be like Jesus, and in our love for him, we put all we've learned into practice, striving to be without sin and caring for those around us who are so frequently overlooked and forgotten. By the Holy Spirit, we are guided onward to perfection. We move beyond being spiritual duffers to passionate disciples.

Father God, thank you for your love and grace. We confess we have not responded to your grace with the commitment and dedication you desire. We have been complacent to be spiritual duffers. Forgive us; we pray. Reignite in us a passion for you and the desire to become like you. To pursue sinlessness with earnestness, caring for others with enthusiasm, and continually moving faithfully toward your perfection. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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