Thoughts of...First Place
When I was growing up, the baseball teams that finished first in the National League and the American League won the right to play each other in the World Series for the championship. All other teams went home to wait for the next season. It isn’t that way anymore.
The divisional splintering and resulting playoff systems of professional baseball, football, basketball, and hockey allow teams that do not finish first to compete for their respective sport’s championship. The prize for finishing first after the long, hard season has been rescinded. The value of 1st Place is depreciated and the goal of excellence is lowered.
Sadly, I think many Christians have introduced the playoff system in their spiritual life. After living in and like the world Monday through Saturday, going to church on Sunday morning is thought to be “good enough” to keep them in the hunt for The Prize. Besides, they can get more serious about Jesus Christ “later” when the playoffs start, right?
There are some very serious flaws in this widespread thinking.
There are no guarantees that there will be a “later.”
In this life, we have the present but we are not promised tomorrow. Tomorrow belongs to God, who holds our breath in His hands (Dan 5:23) and has appointed a number of days for each of us (Heb 9:27). We are not guaranteed to be alive long enough to finish reading this devotional, let alone tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or when we are old and gray.
Jesus could come back for us personally (2 Cor 5:6-8) at any moment. For a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, living for the playoffs rather than winning 1st Place is a cheapened life.
Jesus Christ is a jealous God.
Jesus did not set aside His glory and humble Himself by becoming a servant to settle for 2nd Place or 3rd Place or 4th Place. Jesus did not suffer and die just to compete in a playoff system with our Self, our house, our car, our career, and our recreational interests. Jesus is far more than “good enough,” He is The Victor (Rom 7:24-25a, 1 Cor 15:55-57).
Jesus wants ALL that He has purchased with His blood (1 Cor 6:19-20). He wants all of us – all we are, all we have, and all we ever hope to be. Our body, our soul, our spirit, our time, our talents, our resources. He has purchased it ALL and He won’t settle for anything less than 1st Place. The Champion wants to sit on the throne in our heart. Today. Right now. Continually.
Excellence in the Christian life is holiness unto the Lord. Without reservation, without conditions, without doubt. Let’s not settle for anything less.