ESPN featured a recent discussion of Tiger Woods with the caption on screen that said something like this: “Is this the biggest athlete ever to fall from grace?”
While Herm Edwards may not have answered that question in particular, he emphasized that Tiger Woods needs a mentor, someone to tell him the truth. His recent statement shows someone did tell him the truth about the need for forgiveness and Woods asked for that forgiveness and space to repair, if possible, damage done in his family.
But what I want to say is something ESPN is not designed to talk about and that many who use the phrase “fall from grace” ever think about.
Do we really “fall from grace”? Wouldn’t we rather fall into grace? Those who fall into grace have been on pedestals and for the most part inappropriately idolized. Isn’t the fall from the pedestal and from ostensible perfection?
A youth minister of mine, Fred Edens, was the first who defined grace that I can remember, and I’ve remembered that definition ever since. He said “Grace is something we desperately need but don’t deserve, and we receive it anyway.”
What we do with that gift of grace is incredibly important. The Apostle Paul gives one of the most classic and important teachings on grace in Ephesians 2:1-10. He said people who did not deserve grace were offered it anyway, and their response ought to be one of unending joy in this gift, praise to God, and devotion to do what honors this giver of grace. We’re saved by grace through faith so that we can do good works for God.
Tiger Woods is a child of God, and he needs grace. We all do. So the phrase is not that Tiger Woods has “fallen from grace.” Tiger Woods has fallen into grace. But our culture doesn’t forgive easily–not without demanding with prurient interest the juicy details. Are we really interested in the truth, so that we can forgive? Or are we just living such boring lives that we need to fill them with stories of famous people and their transgressions?
Tiger Woods lost a sponsor this week in Accenture because they no longer see him as the right person for their advertisements about winning integrity. Woods has fallen from integrity and perfection. He knows he’s not perfect and says so. Woods has fallen off the pedestal, not from grace.
And through all this, if Woods discovers the amazing grace of God in a powerful way, he’ll discover that God’s grace is longer than his drive. Tiger Woods has not fallen from grace. Woods has fallen into grace.