Worthless, worrisome wishes. Hideous, hapless hopes. Descriptions of how I regrettably choose to live my life.
Praiseworthy, private pursuits. Selfless, sacred service. Descriptions of how God lovingly wants me to live my life.
The idea of studying the judgment seat of Christ popped into my head a few weeks ago, but as I know so little on the subject, I allowed it to recline unimpeded in the back of my mind. How does one definitively write on a subject about which one knows nothing, after all? To be honest, the subject frightened me a bit because of what I feared I might discover. And Lord, discover it I did.
I’ve got my cup of coffee. You grab one, too, Friend. We’ll sit and chat together at my kitchen table for a few minutes.
This post veritably begins with JCC’s Resurrection Day 2017 message. Pastor Bob talked of us being resurrected in a similar fashion to Jesus resurrecting His friend, Lazarus (John 11:43-44). Just like He did for Lazarus, Jesus stands outside MY tomb commanding ME to come forth. He helps me not only to resurrect (from a life of sin and shame) but to also (just as importantly) rid myself of my burial linens. Being alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1) means no longer lying dead in a burial chamber wrapped in grave clothes.
Of course the references to the tomb and burial linens are metaphorical. These metaphors characterize (for me) a life in which worthless wishes and hapless hopes unfortunately pervade. What a waste of the gifts and time Jesus Christ has so graciously bestowed upon me. What in the WORLD am I DOING? I just sit around wishing and hoping. And for WHAT? I have ALL I need in HIM! I am being completely irresponsible and imprudent with the gifts and talents given me of the Holy Spirit. What a shame. What a cryin’ shame because ultimately, Jesus Christ Himself said, “To whom much is given, much is expected” (Luke 12:48) and “To everyone who has, more will be given” (Matthew 25:29).
My heavenly rewards depend on me changing my ways. Right now. They depend on me humbling myself and asking God to help me seek His face more and more. They depend on me asking God to help me to serve and love Him and His people more and more. Yes, ‘tis true that my past, current, and future sins have already been forgiven and forgotten by Jesus Christ’s one act of grace and love on the cross. Nevertheless, the heavenly rewards spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Revelation 22:12 will not be mine on the day I face Jesus as He sits on His judgment seat if I do not start to serve and love now.
No, I’m not talking about earning salvation. Salvation is a free gift. Executed for us by the Father through the sacrificial death of His only Son. We can’t earn salvation. We are NOT saved BY our works. No, no, no. We DO, however, demonstrate our love of and faithfulness toward God THROUGH our works. James 2:14-26 well describes the intercorrelation of faith and works. It is imperative that I exhibit more faith and fruits of the spirit in this earthly life so that Jesus Christ will say (as He did in His parable of the talents), “Well done, My good and faithful servant” on That Day (Matthew 25:23).
Now you may ask (as I did) Just what IS the judgment seat of Christ? WHERE is it? Well, my friend, in the old Grecian days, there were competitions called the Olympic games. You may have heard of them. The games were prominent in that culture, and wars even stopped temporarily to partake of the competition. At each contest’s end, the official would bestow a laurel wreath upon the victor’s head from the vantage point of a raised platform called a bema. A judgment seat. Paul’s numerous references to the judgment seat of Christ describe Jesus Christ as sitting on a similar platform in heaven. His bema. His judgment seat.
Please understand this, Friend: Jesus’ judgment seat is not a place of punishment. NOT a place of punishment. You have already reaped the reward of His perfect sacrifice. Your sins have already been forgiven. Friend, you will already be in heaven when you approach Christ’s bema. When you see Jesus face to face as He sits on His judgment seat, it will be to receive the rewards for the faithfulness to Him that you demonstrated on earth. It will be to receive the rewards for employing well the gifts He bestowed upon you on earth. The rewards? Crowns. Not laurel wreaths. Crowns. As in The Real Deal.
Crowns. For you and me. And we’re just commoners! But on That Day, we will no longer be commoners. We are actually already joint heirs with the King of heaven and earth (Romans 8:17). And we will be wearing crowns that Jesus places on our heads from His prominent seat on His bema.
I’m not gonna lie. I want Jesus Christ to reward me with a crown. Or two. I really do. There is a temporal part of my flesh that thinks That would be so great wearing a crown, a REAL CROWN! But then the eternal part of my spirit thinks I want to be just as those described in Revelation 4:10-11, casting my crown at the feet of Jesus. Friend, we are the bride of Jesus. He wants us to serve Him and His children with gladness while we are here on earth. He wants to present us with rewards when we meet Him at His bema in the heavenlies. But we can only attain those rewards if we use the time, talent, effort, and energy He gladly, lovingly, and abundantly bestows upon us here and now.
The judgment seat of Christ. A place I want to be. And a place where I hope to learn of the pleasure I have afforded Him by appropriately, liberally, and righteously utilizing the gifts He has given me.
Help me, God. I am but a feeble person. Please turn my worthless, worrisome wishes and hideous, hapless hopes into praiseworthy, private pursuits and selfless, sacred service. For my impending crowns. And Your eternal glory. Thank You.
April 30, 2017
I’ll soon see You at Your bema, Jesus.