Wow! Are you catching any of the Olympic games? I\’ve caught bits and pieces and boy, the competition is fierce…well, I guess it always is, isn\’t it? I watched some of the women\’s gymnastics last night and how those teeny-boppers manage to stay composed, I don\’t know. I mean, not only do they have their country watching up close and friendly-like, they\’ve got the whole world eyeballing them…and then there are the ones they really care about, the judges. I can\’t imagine being on a balance beam knowing that every little bobble, every little misstep is noted by a judge who ends up docking points from my performance.
Some people see God as a judge, and maybe even in the same fashion as the Olympic judges: one who is scrutinizing our every move and is docking points every time we misstep. There is no forgiveness in Olympic judging, forgiveness is unfair to the other competitors–all must be judged according to the same standard. Whew, rather rigorous and heartless, dare I say, yet for competition like that, what other option is there?
People who see God like an Olympic judge, probably operate like an Olympic athlete: they are out to impress God and others, show their stuff and don\’t slip up. They operate like the Pharisees in the Bible, outwardly pious and actively trying to impress anyone who would turn and look, especially God. Well, or, maybe they operate out of a desire to do better than everyone else (competitors extraordinaire). Again, like the Pharisees, they compare themselves to everyone else and gain a sense of worth from their excellent scores, from their pious ways. The world\’s a stage and in the end only the greatest performers get a medal, get the prize. (I realize there are a vast variety of motivations for Olympic athletes, not trying to box them, here, just using a couple of them to make my point).
So, is the God of the Bible a judge? Yes, He is. What does He judge? He judges the heart and out of the heart flows action, flows compassion, flows mercy. Unlike Olympic judges, He cares less about what we do than why we do it, He cares where our heart is, where our focus is, whom or what we trust.
We can do a back handspring beautifully, but if we do it for the wrong reason, if it isn\’t according to His will or done for His glory, then it is empty…no points…so does that mean we\’re condemned, we\’re docked, we\’re damned? Of course not, Jesus labored long and hard and sacrificed all to make sure we would know God\’s great mercy and compassion for mankind. All we need to do is repent. Turn around, confess our sins, surrender to God and receive His forgiveness, start fresh, start clean. He erases the crazy point system we\’ve concocted and establishes relationship. Our Judge doesn\’t care about fairness, He cares about saving us from ourselves, from the Evil One, from eternal death. When He points out bobbles and missteps of the heart it is to help us grow spiritually, to grow closer in our relationship with Him. He steps in as Coach as well as Judge and gets beneath us and lifts, but we must be willing to be lifted, we must be willing to turn around and go higher….in relationship with Him we can botch the routine and still go Home with honor, with a medal around our neck. And like an Olympian\’s father or mother, He cheers wildly when we succeed.
\”There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents\”
Turn and let the medal ceremony begin!