So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
One of my favorite recreational outings is the “best ball” (or “Captain’s Choice”) charity golf tournament. I love golf, I love walking in beautiful locations, I love people, I love giving to good causes, and I love what happens in the context of intentional community. All this is at play.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, best ball involves four golfers hitting from the tee, then – after determining the best shot – everyone playing their next ball from there. Repeat until the ball is in the hole. Consequently, even average golfers can – as a team – score close to par or even better.
When you’re all cheering one another on, everybody contributes. We made it around in 68, and each one of us probably hit at least fifteen shots that counted.
One remarkable example came on a short par four, dogleg to the right. Craig and Catherine both hit the ball in the fairway. Because of that Stuart (our “A” player) hit his drive with more confidence and it sailed long and right down the middle, in prime position. Stuart’s perfect strike gave me the freedom to attempt to cut the corner, hit my drive over the trees, and try to get us a little closer to the green. The hole was only 260 yards and – more by beneficent good fortune than skill – my ball somehow made its way to the front of the green and the chance to putt for an eagle two (we missed, but we had the chance!).
Mutual encouragement is the exact way the Creator intended us (creation) to do life, and that means doing it together. We were imagined, designed, and created for community – that essential fact is the fundamental heart of the opening to the biblical narrative, and it is the continual thrust of our journey as a struggling humankind.
Struggle and Redemption:
Our brokenness – as individuals and families and churches and institutions and nations – is spiritual, and it is relational, and it is redeemable. Life is something we must struggle with and we must struggle with it in community.
I know, it is impossible for me to simply go out and have fun without thinking theologically. But, you know, we were created theologically, and the more we understand our lives and our way forward in the context of redemption, then the closer we will be to the kind of rich, full, satisfying experience Jesus offers.
(photos from the Union Presbyterian Seminary golf outing)