The Way of Servanthood – a biblical message based on Mark 9, preached at the Salvation Army Etobicoke Temple, Holy Thursday, 2008.
Grateful for a couple of days off after a crazy-busy Holy Week, I spent some time today watching the Women’s World Curling Championships. TSN is showing all the games Team Canada is playing, so it’s a great week to get TSN!
If you’re not a curler or a curling fan, check out www.curling.ca – the homepage of the Canadian Curling Association. It’s a fun game, about throwing rocks at buttons in houses (really!). See you on the ice!
In today’s game, Jennifer Jones, skip of Team Canada, had a real fight on her hands: she was playing Team China which, curiously, was neck-and-neck with Team Canada at 5-0 leading up to the game. It was a great game. It looked ominous after the first two ends, in which China took 1 in the first and stole 2 in the second. (My apologies for the lingo if you’re not a curling fan – I’m getting to the point in a minute. Trust me.) However, Canada kept up and played one of its best games so far. But it doesn’t end there.
Coming into the tenth end, the game was tied. Canada had last rock, which is advantageous. Jennifer Jones had to draw against 3 opposition stones, but it was a pretty standard draw – for Jones, at least. This stuff is her bread-and-butter, at least in her curling life. (In her other life she’s a corporate lawyer!)
Trouble was, that ‘pretty standard draw’ was a touch heavy. That is, the stone went down the sheet a bit too fast. And the Chinese third swept it far enough back in the house that it was China, and not Canada, that counted in the last end. So Team Canada lost the game on the final stone.
I don’t know about you, but I’m glad life’s not like that. I’m glad that the whole of life doesn’t come down to the last thing I do. I’m grateful that I’m able to bring worth and value to the lives of others through my work and my relationships. In fact, I’m grateful that, in the final analysis of the game of life, it will not have come down to the stuff I’ve done. The Bible says that “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2.8-9, NLT).
Isn’t that good news? It’s God’s grace acting in our lives that matters most in the final analysis of the game of life. It’s not about how well we throw the shot, but in whom we have trusted.
I tried to mask my incredulity when I heard recently that a book had been written by a member of the clergy, advocating that what we do is more important than what we believe. Of course, as with many errors, there is a grain of truth in this: what we do matters very much. One can claim to be a follower of Christ, yet never let that faith connect with what one does. That is, I could claim to be a Christian and still go around killing people. Or beating my children. Or running around on my wife. (You get the idea.) What we do matters quite a lot. But so does the motive by which we do those things! That’s why I think it matters more what we believe, so that, first of all, our eternal destiny is secure; and second, what we do is founded in God’s will for us.
I’m glad there’s grace in life – all given by God. See, I like to define ‘grace’ as an acroynm: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. It’s about Jesus, not us.
Curling is a courteous game, but it’s also brutal, in that you get to see all the players at their best and worst, and sometimes, the whole game comes down to one shot. I’m glad life’s not like that.
Well, actually, there is one exception – the whole of life does come down to the last thing I do, if that last thing I do is name Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. I hope you have!