“What is written in the Law?” [Jesus] replied. “How do you read it?” [The man] answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” – Luke 10:27
Tuesday morning my friend George and I drove out beyond Bunn to play a round of golf at The River. It’s one of those courses that’s barely hanging on – built on a beautiful tract of land, but without the resources to do much more than mow the fairways and greens.
But I loved it. In a sense, it was a “back to the basics” version of the game. The course has the essential elements – holes, flags, greens, shorter grass in the fairways – and everything else is pretty much optional.
No keeping score!
The point of this post has more to do with how George and I interacted with the game. After a couple of holes we remembered we hadn’t penciled in our scores (probably for good reason!) and that realization prompted us to do something I’ve never done before – we didn’t keep track of our shots the rest of the day.
For me, that was revolutionary! But what a great idea, and so appropriate. Instead of saying, “I got a 4 on the par three,” we said things like, “Wasn’t that last hole fun!” And, “I love the way number such-and-such is laid out around that bend in the river!” Or, “It may have taken three swings, but what a beautiful shot you made into the par three!” What mattered was the experience. We were there to have fun, not to post a score.
The course was nearly empty, and there was never anyone either in front of us or behind. So I could hit the same shot three times if I wanted to. Or experiment with a different club because it didn’t matter if it didn’t work. Or keep driving until I got it right.
We played – get this – simply for fun. Sure, it’s more fun to hit a great shot than hook it deep into the woods. But if you’re not keeping score the only shot that counts is the one you like!
Process rather than Results:
Essentially, we played golf according to the “process oriented” approach rather than the “results oriented” standard. But – and here’s what’s remarkable – I probably played better as a result.
As a Christian, I am responding to the invitation of Jesus to live. The point of following Jesus is not right behavior, but right living. It’s not about keeping score, it’s about the process along the way.
The point of following Jesus is not right behavior, but right living.
In consequence, the way my life plays out is much closer to “following the law” than had I set out to follow the law as an end to itself.
I’m not sure that this truth needs any more elaboration other than to say this: If you are concerned with judging others according to their compliance with your interpretation of the rules, then consider – instead – encouraging them in their relationship with Jesus.
More than that, consider encouraging yourself in your relationship with Jesus. Not only will Jesus teach you not to judge, he will remake you, and your faith will stand as an encouragement to those you were previously so anxious to set right.
Peace – and more peace – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.