A Bubba With a Passion for the Gospel and Golf (In That Order)

The Story: On Sunday Bubba Watson, one of the most untraditional golfers on the PGA Tour, was the surprise winner of the 2012 Masters Tournament. But golf isn’t Watson’s top priority. What he considers most important can be gleaned from the description on his Twitter account:”@bubbawatson: Christian. Husband. Daddy. Pro Golfer. Owner of General Lee 1.”

The Background: In an interview with Trevor Freeze of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Watson tells how he uses his Twitter account—along with his PGA platform— to share about his faith in Christ.

“For me, it’s just showing the Light,” said Watson. “There’s people who want to put down Christians. I try to tell them Jesus loves you. It’s just a way to be strong in my faith.”

Last month Watson’s Tweeted before his third round: The most important thing in my life? Answer after I golf 18 holes with @JustinRose99. #Godisgood

Later that day he posted on his account, “Most important things in my life- 1. God 2. Wife 3. Family 4. Helping others 5. Golf”

“Lecrae said it the best,” Watson said of the Christian rapper he listens to on his iPod. “He doesn’t want to be a celebrity. He doesn’t want to be a superstar. He just wants to be the middle man for you to see God through him.”

Why It Matters: Christians have always been involved in professional sports, so why is the faith of superstars like Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin, and Bubba Watson suddenly getting the public’s attention? Perhaps it’s because these athletes are open and unapologetic about their willingness to share the Gospel. They also keep their priorities in order, winsomely admitting that their life’s callings are secondary to serving the Creator who has called them. To a culture that is both obsessed and disillusioned with fame and fortune, the centered perspective of these superstars provides a refreshingly countercultural witness.

  • Trish Jones

    I just posted on my FB page last night a personal comment about these three athletes, and the need for the Body of Christ to continually lift them to the Throne, asking for God’s protection in the face of the immense temptations they must face in their professions. I am so grateful for each of them – and I’m not a big sports fan. But I am a Christ-follower and am jealous for His Name and glory. And Bubba was just fun to watch – I may even voluntarily watch more golf!

  • Ben

    I realise I will probably get panned as cynical, but it grates with me that we so easily jump on the bandwagon of a famous christian. Analyse his statement: ‘God before golf’ but where was he on Easter Sunday? Celebrating the resurrection with the body of believers or on the golf course?

    • Mike

      Yes a little bit per judgemental since he had a 2:30pm tee time.

      • Ben

        I’m aware of the tee time brother, but it does raise the question of whether the whole ‘day’ is the Lords or just a part of it. I try not to be judgemental, although I’m sure I fail and maybe my comment was antagonising, I apologise for that. I try to preach the spirit over the letter of the law, but it does concern me how easily the 4th commandment is considered to be simply ‘fulfilled in Christ’ and therefore outside of attending church, aspects such as rest, ceasing from work etc. are put to one side and it is life and work as normal.

        • Matt

          Why do you remember the 4th commandment, yet forget Paul’s statement about not worrying when someone has their Sabbath? It’s not that Paul said we shouldn’t keep the Sabbath, he just said stop judging someone on WHEN they keep their Sabbath.

          One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
          Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,
          “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
          and every tongue shall confess to God.”

          So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

          (Romans 14:5-12 ESV)

          • Ben

            I don’t forget Paul’s statement, I think it is a very important one, but is it relating to the weekly sabbath/Lord’s day or feast days and sabbath(s)? In the context of the letter to the Colossians Paul is urging the church not to be held to ransom over food laws and holy days, to keeping sabbaths that have been fulfilled in Christ. This is dealing with Old Testament feast days. I don’t know how Romans 14 and Colossians 2:16 has been automatically deemed to be a proof text that the 4th commandment is suddenly not relevant when the context suggests it has more to do with feast days. I realise that Christ is our ‘Sabbath rest’ That is an element of His saving work, but when is the sabbath rest fulfilled and consumated? Heaven! I generally take a ‘New Covenant’ position with exception to the Lord’s day, but when discusing this issue with many new covenant brothers I have asked the question in all good faith “Why does this position give so little regard to the Lords day”? I am open to study this, but it has to be from more convincing exegesis of the above passages.

            • David Zook

              I understand where you are coming from Ben. It’s important to honor the Lord through the 4th Commandment. So my question is, does it matter which day we honor him? If I remember correctly, worshiping and resting on Sunday came from tradition, not Scripture. Saturday still is the day of worship and rest for the Jews as outlined in Scripture.

              Would we hold pastors, medical and military personnel, police officers, firefighters, and any number of other people who have to work on Sunday to the same standard as Bubba?

              Is it possible that he and other like him set aside another day of the week, like Monday, as their Sabbath day?

            • Ryan J. Ross

              Ben is presumably a Presbyterian who subscribes to the Westminster Standards. So to answer your question, Yes it is possible that Bubba calls various days his Sabbath, but we believe that the Lord’s Day is the Christian Sabbath. Presbyterians are a minority among Gospel Co-Allies, but the fourth commandment is viewed very different for Presbyterians in general and other denominations.

              Also, there are works of mercy and necessity that are permitted on the Sabbath, for example, healing. Whether those categories “qualify” as a work of mercy and necessity is better left for the Session to which they submit.

              Lastly, the fact that it is traditional does not make it any less binding. On this matter, we worship on Sunday because of men (apostles), but because of God (Jesus). He was raised on the first day of week, so we worship on the first day of the week, thus changing the OT Sabbath to the NT Christian Sabbath.

        • Mike

          Sorry if I came off to harsh also, I just put that in there because you “probably knew it was coming”.

          Where I am at a cross roads, is yes, every day is the Lord’s but then how do you publicly proclaim Christ unless you step out to where the public is and there were a lot of people at the Masters.

          So then is God more glorify lifting Bubba up to the public spotlight or having Bubba bow out then becoming a target of ridicule of churches “silly rules”. Not that he won’t be ridicule anyway.

        • Melody

          You do know that Easter isn’t the “actual” day, don’t you? I’m wondering who is being used to reach the most people with the gospel these men in sports who are declaring His Name? Or us?

          Didn’t Jesus get in trouble for those He had fellowship with, the things He did on the Sabbath? Never mind that Sunday isn’t even the real Sabbath and there is nothing in the New Testament that changed that except the tradition of man.

          I don’t follow sports but even I can recognize a trend here and I wouldn’t dare attribute it to satan’s work instead of God. That would just be scary.

      • Stephen

        Good one, Mike. Bubba has actually stated that he’s one of about a dozen or so colleagues that gather on Wednesday nights during the tour for Bible study and fellowship. “The one-hour study is something Watson looks forward to regularly: “Getting more in the Word and realizing that golf is just an avenue for Jesus to use me to reach as many people as I can.””

  • Ben

    Mike, you make an excellent point. The balance that is to be found between honouring Christ and overstepping the boundaries is a good one. I accept that my opening statement was mischevious, I apologise again if I seem like a pharisee. That is not my intention. But what I do feel strongly about is that as christians we conceed too much ground. I have always been a fan of Eric Liddel and his stance from 1 Sam 2:30 “Those who honour Me, I will honour”.

    • Shayne McAllister

      The difference is that Eric Liddel was by conscience, a Sunday Sabbatarian, so he honored the Lord by following his conscience even at great personal cost. I think it was an admirable move, but not the only valid one. I’ve read that in the very early church, before Christianity was institutionalized into the culture, Christians gathered as early as 5 AM on Sundays, then started their work days. For Bubba, this is his job and clearly it’s his calling. It’s indisputable that by his own conscience he honored the Lord as much as he could on national television. Given what I understand of what the Sabbath and Lord’s Days are in Scripture, I don’t think we’re conceding anything but a extra-biblical cultural taboo if we claim sports can’t happen on Sunday.

      Interestingly it’s possible that ESPN cut him off with a “technical difficulty” while talking about his faith.

      • Mike

        Wow that is … interesting

      • Matt

        That is amazing…I watched the whole speech on Golf Channel too. ESPN “technical glitch”…ha!

        • Shayne McAllister

          In the original CBS youtube video, at the same point there is a glitch, there’s a cameraman or producer saying “woah, woah” after Bubba thanks Jesus Christ and starts to talk about how the day is special. Bubba asks “woah?” and moves on. This is discretely edited out in the current youtube version. I’m not normally a conspiracy theorist, but . . .

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  • Ben

    David, for some reason I can’t reply directly to your comment. I think that what you say is getting to the core of the issue. There has to be recognition of the 4th commandment as a creation ordinance with the implications of rest. I take the point re pastors, medical staff, police etc. and I agree. It is better to do good on the Sabbath than to do evil, and there is always a potential danger when we think with our hearts to get things wrong, but I prefer that to treating christianity as a set of rules that makes for cold hearts. I don’t know much about the Jewish tradition re Sabbath Lords day obligations. The question I suppose is where do we draw a line? There are some who share my view re Sabbath/Lords day who have no movement whatsoever, there are also some on the other side of the argument who have conceeded far too much ground and the day has been made ‘ordinary’.
    Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27)we should enjoy the day! But also that the Son of man is the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28). With regards setting aside another day, I think that is important for those who have to work to do so, but on a practical level…if a reasonable percentage went down that road what would the implication be for the church?

    Sportsmen and women do have a tremendous opportunity to witness to a large audience, but does God make an exception in His expectations of celebritiesover and above ‘normal’ working people who could do with the overtime to pay off a mortgage? I have to say that for me it’s a ‘no’.

    I am not ‘anti-Bubba’ but I am ‘pro-Lord’s day’.

    • Just some guy

      I hate that these conversations devole into debates over things like this, but I do have to point out that your comment is not fair. That “‘normal’ working person” can’t take a Sabbath from his job on Monday if he works overtime on Sunday morning.

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  • Ben Andress

    Wow. I thought there was something special about him, but now i understand. i appreciate that he wants to follow God’s order of things in his life.
    It’s nice to have a follower of Christ in a position that allows him to display God’s intended pattern and be able to give an answer to anyone who asks of the faith that is in him.

    Lord Bless him in the future as he is open about his faith.

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