Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mulligan Grace

Golf teaches people many wonderful life lessons. Among them are these: patience, humility, gracious winning (rare), graceful losing, and “the mulligan”. For those not familiar with the golfing term "mulligan" don’t look it up in the official rules of golf. You won’t find it. A mulligan is a golfing term for a "do-over." You make a bad shot, and sometimes your partner will give you a chance to make amends. Someone wrote a book recently about Presidents and golf. JFK was nearly a professional golfer, but didn’t want people to know it. LBJ used the game of golf to practice politics. And Bill Clinton perfected the mulligan--he would challenge the limits of his fellow players’ patience and good favor by asking for dozens of mulligans in a round of golf. In the Bible, we have a spiritual mulligan. We call it grace. I John 1:9 reminds us, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." A spiritual mulligan is there for the taking. We mistakenly think we have to be good enough to make it to Heaven, to deserve God’s favor. Let’s say that it takes 100 points to get to Heaven. How many points would you give Mother Teresa? Maybe 85. Saddam Hussein? 5 at best. How many would you give yourself? Jesus makes up the difference. A man got to the Pearly Gates and was told of this “system”, that he’d need 100 points to make it in. He said that he’d been faithful to his wife of over 50 years of marriage, and St Peter said, “That’s 3 points.” He said he’d been active in his church and was a deacon. Peter said, “Very good, 2 points.” The man was getting nervous. He said, “I worked as a volunteer at a food pantry.” Peter smiled. “Another 2 points.” The man groaned. At this rate the only way I’m going to make it is by the grace of God.” Peter said, “You just got 100 points! Welcome in!” British author CS Lewis was attending a conference on world religions. A question came up about what made Christianity unique, different from other faiths. He answered, “That’s easy; it’s grace.” No other religion has grace—God giving us what we don’t deserve--Heaven, and not giving us what we do deserve—that “other place”. We can be grateful that God loves us in spite of our faults. He can do so because Jesus took our punishment. Our sins must be paid for—and they were—on the cross.

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