A Crown without Jewels
by Ryan Duncan
Like most kids who grew up in the church, I was enrolled in Awana the moment I had the ability to memorize John 3:16. Not that I’m complaining, I enjoyed the evenings of games and Bible stories. However, like every Bible club for small children, Awana had its share of speed bumps. One such bump appeared during a lesson where a young woman was sharing her testimony. She had just finished telling everyone the story of how her grandfather accepted Christ on his deathbed when a hand shot up in the back of the audience.
"Does this mean we can do whatever we want as long as we say sorry before we die?" asked the child. I can vaguely remember the look of panic that came into the woman's eyes when she discovered her class was trying to cheat the system. Torn between theology and a group of minors, she opted for the easiest answer.
"Well, yes, God will forgive you if you ask him," then reaching down to her jacket, she pulled out the tiny crown pin reserved only for the best children in the club, "but it also means you will have fewer jewels in your crown when you get to heaven." I'm not bothered that our leader chose to use this explanation; it's hard to describe the grace of God to a room full of third graders hopped up on gummy bears. What does bother me is the number of adult Christians who still believe this idea to be true.
“I grew up in a Christian household.”
“I accepted Christ when I was only seven.”
Many Christians will take these statements and present them as proof of their superiority. Proof that the person who just gave their life to Christ is somehow "Second Class." Thankfully, Jesus didn't see it that way, and said as much in the parable of the vineyard
"So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.' But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?' So the last will be first, and the first will be last." – Matthew 20:10-16
It does not matter if you spend your entire life ignoring God or trying to build a stairway to heaven, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of Christ. But when we accept him as our savior that all changes, regardless of how old we are or how we’ve spent our past. The whole, wonderful point of grace is that it cannot be earned. How else could it be called grace?
Intersecting Faith and Life: Remember to be humble and show understanding to others. We are all on a journey to know God, so love others as he would love them.