We live in a world that often provides trophies for children. When I was a child, trophies were awarded only to the championship teams. Today, however, trophies are handed out for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes kids receive a trophy because their team won the title. My son’s soccer team has won several trophies over the past couple of years for placing high in tournaments or finishing the regular season in first place.
Other times people receive a trophy because they participated in the league. We gave “awards” to each player on the flag football team I coached this past fall even though we only won two games. Mere participation on the team qualified you for one of these awards.
We live in a trophied-up world. So much so, that some have wondered aloud if these awards have “a-trophied” our internal drive, or damaged our ability to deal with failure.
Truth be told, many people take a similar trophy concept and transfer it onto the Christian life. We assume that Eternal Life is like a trophy. Some believe that this trophy is earned only by moral champions who live a life that is “good enough.” Others believe God will give eternal life to all . . . simply because we are on the human “team.” But, which one is it? Those two ideas exhibit vastly different philosophies of life. They cannot both be right.
The reality is that God DOES award eternal life on the basis of performance, and God DOES provide this salvation to people who did not earn it. Sound confusing? Paul reconciles this for us in Romans chapters 1-4. He lets us know that God’s wrath (not His reward) is poured out toward ALL unrighteousness (Romans 1:18) and ALL are unrighteous (Romans 3:23). This means that ALL are on the losing team based on our own performance. However, God (in His love) chose to graciously give to humanity the victory of Jesus’ righteousness (Romans 1:16, 3:24-26). Jesus is undefeated against sin and His record is offered freely to all of us “losers.” The trophy is ours to receive by faith, not to earn. The victory was won by Jesus but can be credited to our standing.
In God’s economy, no one’s performance earns them the trophy of Eternal Life . . . except Jesus. And His reward is offered to us. Have you received it by faith?
This Sunday (February 14), we will be talking more about this in our Sunday morning worship services at Wildwood Community Church. We will be looking at Romans 4:13-25 in our 8:15, 9:30 and 11:00 worship services as we continue our series on the “ABC’s of Faith.” Hope to see you there as we find our hope in Christ together!