To the best of my knowledge, John Wesley, the 18th century founder of Methodism never played golf. That’s too bad because the strategy behind playing a good round of golf matches his view on his theological understand of “sanctification” to a “tee.” Did I just make a pun?
Wesley taught that we are to strive for Christian perfection which he defined as being in a state of loving God and neighbor completely. Wesley also took sin seriously and was well aware that sin can keep us from being made perfect in love in any given moment.
For Wesley, perfection is a good news/bad news kind of thing. The good news is that in any given moment, God’s grace is being extended to us to enable us to love God and neighbor completely. The bad news is that we do not always avail ourselves to God’s grace and we allow sin to keep us from being made perfect in this life.
Like Wesley’s understanding of Christian perfection, golf is also a good news/bad news sport. The good news is that in any given moment, we can get a hole in one or at least make par. The bad news is that we do not always avail ourselves to what we need to do to make this happen. We might have a poor swing technique, choose the wrong club, or utilize a bad strategy. Any of these variables can lead to a golf shot that is less than perfect.
My computer wallpaper photo of a par three tee shot that landed an inch from the hole reminds me that golf perfection is always possible. It’s not very often that my par 3 tee shot lands on the green or gets that close to the hole which is why I took this photo to savor that moment!
In a similar way, we may not reach Christian perfection in this life like John Wesley said was possible, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. Remember, in any given moment, God’s grace is always being extended to us so that we can love God and neighbor fully. God is always giving us the right swing technique, the perfect club choice, and the best strategy in any given situation, but it’s up to us to receive these gifts and live out our faith the way God intends.
Any golfer will tell you that what keeps them coming back to play golf is that one really good shot they had during the previous round. Just because you don’t get a hole in one doesn’t mean you should give up on the game of golf.
Getting closer to perfection is the name of the game. It’s also the name for how we are to live out our faith each day.