Links Daily Devotional

Because We Believe

…if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. (Romans 11:23, NIV)

It was one of those internet discussion pages leading up to the Open Championship. Topic: differences between golf on the U.S. side of the Atlantic and the British side.

The lead-in, naturally, was “British Open” versus “Open Championship.” But the writer was looking for other suggestions, and here they came: “sand traps” and “bunkers,” “woods” and “metals,” “through the air” and “on the ground.”

One answer caught me by complete surprise, though. A commenter offered the observation that golfers in Europe don’t thank God after they win. The comment came from a European and the implication was that the Americans and their God-thanking are at least a bit off-kilter.

What’s difficult is offering an explanation.

Those men and women who thank God do so for one reason: they believe. Some would go so far as to say they believe God had direct influence on the shots of the day, an idea that we might call “absolute sovereignty.” Ironically perhaps, it’s a doctrine that is hard to defend absolutely, but some theologians are willing to go that far. Most God-believing golfers, like most believers in general, would lean in this softer direction: God’s role in my life is so influential and so excellent, that my own play could not help but be positively affected by his presence in my every circumstance, including those on the golf course.

The entirety of this spectrum, while interesting to believers, is little more than a joke—or maybe a fantasy—to those who have no such belief. For them, God is in the category of the Easter bunny and Nessie.

This should bother us no more than it bothered the apostle Paul, who never got too worked up about what the unbelieving were doing. They were doing what you would expect them to do: run their own lives in the way they see fit.

Paul was not bothered, but he was concerned. He was concerned that unbelief could separate a person from God forever. We must do the same, approaching our unbelieving friends “not wanting anyone to perish” (2 Peter 3:9). In desire for their salvation, we pray and we talk and—when given the chance—we say humble thanks to God even in public places, not because we want to offend, but because we believe that God is really there and he makes all the difference, now and into eternity.

Jeff Hopper

July 22, 2013

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