Each week as I prepare for writing I scan the sports news to see if anything jumps out at me that would give a good example for the weekly devotion. This week had a few things jump out at me. I have written before that March Madness is the most wonderful time of the year and this year it gives a lot of good story lines.
I love watching the conference tournaments as teams vie to win an automatic place in the Big Dance. I love to see the brackets unveiled as to who is playing where. I get excited filling out brackets for who I think will win. I enjoy reading commentaries on who people think has the hardest road to the Final Four.
I think the biggest stories are those teams that feel they deserved to get in the tournament but didn’t. They anxiously awaited their fate feeling as though they had done enough to get in. The team I think that is probably feeling the most grief is Mississippi State. They were considered a “bubble team” going into the championship game for the SouthEastern Conference. If they win that game they receive an automatic bid; if they lose their fate is in the hands of the tournament committeefor an “at-large bid.” They faced the University of Kentucky and seemed to have the game won. Then with 1/10th of a second on the clock a Kentucky player released a shot that tied the game and sent it into overtime; Kentucky went on to win the game. Mississippi St. was left waiting and ended up not getting into the Dance.
Yesterday as I shared a message on evangelism at a church I expressed my fear for those that think they are going to make it into Heaven based upon faulty reasoning. Some think they have done enough good to impress the selection committee (God.) Some have been told what formula they needed to follow in order to get a spot.
I asked the question of the congregation, “How do you know you are saved?” When I ask that question I often receive answers like:
“I’ve tried to live a good life.”
“I said the sinner’s prayer.”
“I walked an aisle when I was…”
“I committed my life to serve God.”
Folks even in the church we have a “I” problem. To put it very succinctly you can do nothing to earn the Committee (God’s) favor. There is only one way into Heaven’s Big Dance and that is an automatic bid through the Substitute Jesus Christ.
God chooses His team based upon one criterion: Faith in the finished work of Christ.
Jesus said it this way: John 14: 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Paul put it this way: Ephesians 2: 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
The simple fact is this: I am going to THE BIG DANCE! But this is not based upon my efforts; it is solely based upon my faith in the finished work of Christ.
Remember there are no “at-large” bids into Heaven – only the automatic bid found in Christ!