Pastor Don's Journal Articles
And The Winner Is...
I'll admit that I checked out and went to bed before the show was over, but the Sunday night Academy Awards program ended with an unprecedented gaffe. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway opened the Best Picture envelope and announced the wrong winner. The “La La Land” people were already making their speeches before the real winner, “Moonlight", was acknowledged. Onstage and backstage chaos erupted.
How could such a thing happen? -- And in front of a worldwide audience of a billion people? The accounting firm, Price Waterhouse Coopers, promises an investigation of the mishap. Of course, in this crazy season of upsets, we cannot rule out that it might have been the Russians!
At least Steve Harvey can relax now.
The Bible speaks of a day out in the future when crowns and awards will be presented to Christians for their faithful service while on this earth, in this life. It is called the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) and is completely different from the Great White Throne Judgment of the lost (Revelation 20:11-15). At this judgment we are already winners -- we are in heaven when it takes place. It is a review of our lives as Christians, and boils down to the things we did or didn't do with the tremendous opportunities we were given by God.
Could there be mistakes in the reckoning when you find yourself standing there? Start your speech and then get interrupted by an angel with a clipboard and a headset?
No. “The Judge of all the earth will do right” (Genesis 18:25). He knows the thoughts and intents of the heart, discerning motives as well as marking actions, so He cannot be fooled.
The Crown of Glory seems to be for pastors who lead their people well (1 Peter 5:1-4). The Crown of Rejoicing is a crown for and by a church for being the best representation of Christ here in their community. The Crown of Righteousness is for all Christians who joyfully anticipate and long for the return of Jesus (2 Timothy 4:8). The Crown of Life will be for those who are faithful and true all the way to the end of their lives (Revelation 2:10).
And there are probably many more, lesser awards, too.
I know that we will be judged by our attitudes and actions toward the sick, the poor, the prisoner, and the immigrant (Matthew 25:31-46). For harsh, idle words that were spoken perhaps in secret but which did great damage to others (Matthew 12:36-37). A big part of it will be what materials we used in building our lives upon the sure foundation of Christ (1 Corinthians 3: 11-15). Gold, silver, and precious stones -- costly and permanent things; or wood, hay and straw -- the cheap and flammable stuff?
Christians will not be judged in comparison to others, so that only one person can win. No, we will each stand individually. And the standard will be Jesus Himself. The “Best Picture” Oscar will be given to all of those who did the best with the opportunities and gifts they were given. You won't thank the Academy, you will thank Him.
But in living the Christian life that God desires for us, we do receive a lot of help along the way. If you were called upon to make a thank you speech for the people who most helped you become who you are today -- who would you name? Your parents or a sibling? A Sunday school teacher or pastor? Perhaps a mentor who taught you the ropes and opened a door or two? One Hollywood star years ago took the statuette and gushed: “I want to thank everybody I have ever met". And that's not bad. For even difficult people and enemies have helped to make us stronger. We would not be who we are without them.
Go ahead and get your tux and evening gown ready. I don't know, you may be called on to say a few words when the big day comes.