There are various aspects of the Christian Faith that shed light on the human experience. One such category is the idea of redemption and forgiveness. Nothing could be more central to what the Christian message is all about.
I recently saw the movie Crazy Heart. Jeff Bridges gives a stunning performance of an over the hill country western star who is now forced to play small venues like bars and bowling alleys. One of his hit songs aptly describes him, “I used to be somebody, but now I am somebody else,” and it is that somebody else who really leaves us on the edge through out the film. Just watching him kind of stagger around drinking and smoking is painful to even watch. You are wondering if he is going to die from lung cancer or liver disease. On the other hand you can see glimpses of what a great performer and song writer he used to be. When he is asked about where he gets his inspiration to write country songs he responds, “from life unfortunately.”
During the course of his playing one gig after another he runs into a woman reporter and her son that force him to take a deeper look at what life is all about. While not wanting to spoil the outcome for you let me simply say that he finally finds redemption.
Redemption is an interesting word. As my Sunday School teacher said, “to redeem something means to buy it back.” Maybe like country music songs you end up getting your wife, your truck and your dog back. That is redemption. Seriously, Jeff Bridges character “Bad Blake” gets another shot at life and decides to take it.
The word redemption and forgiveness was also used by television commentator Brit Hume. With a surprising comment he made on a new show, Hume suggests that Tiger Woods would do well to embrace his Christian faith in an effort to find redemption from all of the things that he has done. He felt it was a way Tiger could respond to how he has destroyed his family by his infidelity or as he puts it, “ his transgressions.” Transgressions is another good word for doing the wrong thing from the Christian vocabulary. Truth be told I found it refreshing that Hume made that suggestion in our politically correct world. You don’t expect someone on a news program to suggest that one of the greatest golfers ever to play the game should seek repentance and redemption as found in Christianity. On television, every one around the table was speechless by this suggestion. However, I had a smile on my face and completely agreed with Hume. It was not bad advice.
In the end, Tiger embraced his Buddhist background on his mothers side rather than his Christian background on his father’s side. I am not sure what Buddhism has to say about redemption. I do know that it is a wonderful discipline when it comes to prayer. In the end, I have my doubts about how much Tiger knows about either Buddhism or Christianity. Many of us have doubts whether a leopard can change its spots. Change and forgiveness require enormous work. I know it takes a lot of work to be a great golfer. It requires enormous time and energy. It requires also days of practice. We know Tiger can do that but can he find the energy to change and to take his call for forgiveness seriously. He did say that he was sorry in his short speech. Let’s hope he means it.
Allow me to share with you one of my favorite quote’s from Reinhold Niebuhr:
Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint or our friend or foe as from our standpoint. Therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.