I started yesterday’s sermon by sharing with the congregation my latest quest to be a game show contestant. Two weeks ago I went down to DC and auditioned for a new trivia-based show. I can’t tell you the name of the show or any of the details of the audition because we all signed non-disclosure agreements that had a 5 MILLION dollar penalty for disclosing anything.
If you really want to know, you can PayPal me the money and we’ll talk.
Anyway, I can tell you that I thought I had a GREAT audition (the kiss of death!). I learned a lot from auditioning for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Jeopardy. And not just from the successful attempts, but also from the failures that preceded them – I auditioned four times before I got onto Millionaire, and twice before I got the invitation from Jeopardy.
At the latest audition, I did all the things you’re supposed to do – I smiled, had great energy, followed directions, and the other stuff I recommend in “Pastor Dave’s Dozen Tips for a Successful Game Show Audition.”
So after the audition was over the anticipating started. I knew there wasn’t much time until the show would be taping, and that there would be a limited number of episodes, at least at first. Two weeks later a Facebook friend posted that he had gotten a call to go to LA and tape . . . so I started making extra sure I had my cellphone charged and ready at all times.
But my phone never rang. I didn’t get picked.
When I was an unChristian, I thought Christians believed that life was like an audition for eternity. You follow God’s Ten Rules for a Successful Heaven Audition, and God picks you for forgiveness and salvation, and maybe even chooses you to have your prayers answered.
Based on what I hear and read, some Christians seem to believe it works like that.
But that’s religion. Religion is following rules so that you will (might) earn God’s favor.
The best news ever is that Jesus came to replace religion with relationship. It’s not about what you do (or don’t) do . . . it’s about Who you know.
Life is not an audition for heaven.
For whatever reason, the producers of that new game show didn’t think I was worthy of being a contestant (at least not yet!).
I disagree, but I’m definitely not worthy for eternity with God. Thank God it’s not my worthiness I’m counting on . . . it’s the perfect worthiness – righteousness – of Jesus Christ.
Maybe you feel unworthy at times, or a lot of the time. Maybe because of some things you’ve done, or haven’t done, or are still doing. Maybe you can’t seem to get out of your own way. You might wonder how anybody can possibly find you worthy – especially if they knew the real you. You might have trouble believing anybody could really love you, especially a perfect, all-knowing God.
Well, Jesus came to love unworthy folks like us. It’s a love you don’t have to earn. It’s love that is totally unconditional. Jesus loved you all the way to the Cross – he didn’t wait for you or me to get our acts cleaned up first.
Like Wayne and Garth, “We’re not worthy.” We can’t be. And that’s actually Good News. We never have to wonder if we’re good enough or if we’ve done enough. It’s all been done for us. Jesus meant it when he said, as he was dying, “It is FINISHED.”