It’s ironic that last week I wrote about the power of honest confession at precisely the same time as a tragically poor example of confession was unfolding in Florida. Perhaps you heard about it. (if not pick a newspaper website and go read).
The story began a couple of weeks ago. First an article in the Enquirer claimed that Woods was having an affair, then 36 hours later he and his wife had some sort of fight that caused an early morning accident outside their home. Woods then says nothing, nothing, nothing. Then three hours after a waitress comes forward with a phone message recording, Woods issues a statement where he:
- admits he’s not perfect
- admits ‘transgressions’ against his family (read wife)
- lectures the media about his entitlement to privacy
- says “I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves.”
The statement is an epic failure as an apology. It reads like it was written by a lawyer (not a good sign) and it confesses nothing. “I am not perfect (of you’re course not), I did bad things, and I will try not to do them again.” It plays into a common view of the world that says there are two kinds of people in the world: Good People and Bad People. Good People do good things, Bad People do bad things. Good People need to keep away from Bad People (and Bad Things) as much as possible. If a Good Person makes a mistake they must admit they aren’t perfect and characterize their slip up as temporary blip on their otherwise ‘Good’ character. Next, they try to fade into the woodwork and hope something distracts you from their mistake.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is that there two kinds of people but they are a different two: Repentant People and Unrepentant People. Unrepentant People conceal, they try to manipulate and control, they admit they aren’t perfect but they try to walk and talk as perfectly as they can. Unrepentant People are exhausted from the effort; they are proud and often bitter. Unrepentant People are never truly sorry.
Repentant People admit they make mistakes, and will make more. Repentant People completely trust Jesus to be perfect for them. Repentant People need each other for support and encouragement. Repentant People find strength in Jesus Christ and are humble; how could you not be humble when you depend on Jesus for everything!
Repentant people know: “I’ve done nothing to deserve being loved by my Creator! He is my everything! I owe everything I have to Him. Without Him, nothing I have is worth anything!”
There are no Good People; only Jesus. God is holy, and fair and just and we are glory stealing, selfish people who are working against God right from the time we can think. There is a natural order in the universe and we can feel it in our bones: Justice must prevail. We can’t stand it when things aren’t fair, except when we are involved. We want to constantly receive mercy and constantly hand out justice.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is that He lived on earth as a man and lived perfectly while He was here. Despite living perfectly, He was betrayed by a friend and was wrongfully accused, was beaten and finally murdered, and in doing so He absorbed the wrath of God as a punishment for our sins. God is a holy God and He is fair and He is just. If He doesn’t punish sin then He isn’t fair or just or holy. The punishment for our sins fell on Him and in exchange we receive the perfect record of Jesus. When God looks at us he sees Jesus perfect obedience, his perfect compliance and submission.
Christians should be repentant people but we often aren’t. We are impressed by our own achievements and pleased with our own moral standing. We are filled with pride and are unwilling to depend on Jesus for our acceptance into God’s favour. When Christians are unrepentant, they are hypocrites (see my definition of a hypocrite): they claim to have beliefs that they do not actively practice. When Christians are unrepentant they hide and deceive and excuse themselves and play wicked games where they set themselves up to look better than others. Unrepentant religious people were the ones who killed Jesus in the first place!
Please don’t think I look down on Tiger with some smug air of condescension. I look over at him like two men stuck in a pit; one sinner to another. I grieve for Tiger but not because he got caught. I grieve for him because he is trying to work his way out of this trap and only Jesus can do it.