Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

I sometimes puzzle over statements people make such as looking for God. It’s our nature to make things more complicated than they are or should be. God is not hiding. He has not put up boundaries and obstacles so that only a few are able to succeed. The Hunger Games, the Labyrinth, Survivor, American Ninja Warrior; the Kingdom of God is not like any of those things. The Apostle Paul, speaking to a Greco-Roman audience, often made analogies to the sporting world and athletic competition. He talks about competing according to the rules in order to not be disqualified (2 Timothy 2:5) and to the Philippians he says that he presses forward toward the prize (Philippians 3:13-14). The prize is Jesus and he wants you to win! 

Adults that grew up in the 70’s and 80’s were the first generation raised on video games. Kids today may know what I’m talking about. Did you ever get stuck on a level that you just couldn’t beat. Maybe you had an older sibling or a friend who had beaten the game and you handed them the controller. “Get past this part and I can do the rest of it.” Imagine if you couldn’t get past that one screen on Pac Man and Toru Iwatani, the guy that invented the thing, said “Here, let me do it.” Jesus has already beaten the game. The creator of heaven and earth stepped onto our playing field. He subjected himself to our rules and limitations. He has already beaten the last bad guy. Death, hell and the grave and been defeated. What more do we have to be afraid of? He will someday bind Satan and cast him into the Pit. Why would Jesus do these things? So that you and I can share his inheritance.

Jesus is the prize and he wants you to win. Remember Monopoly? You win Monopoly by buying properties and collecting rent. The one with the most houses, hotels, railroads – and money- at the end of the game wins. Life is not like Monopoly. If you go through life acquiring everything on the board you will be disappointed when time is called and all the pieces, paper money and game board are thrown in the fire and burned. Then what will you have? Jesus is the prize. He said to lay up treasures in heaven, then where your treasure is your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21). The things we do for others, things we do that please God, things done to build the Kingdom, that is how we lay up treasure in heaven. God is bottling up the prayers of his saints and will someday release those like fragrant aromas in heaven. There are no life hacks, there are no cheat codes. The only way into God’s presence is through his Son Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life but only those that enter by him will get in. There are no alternate methods, there will be no substitutions. Jesus is the prize and he wants you to win. God is rooting for you. And he has already done the hard parts.

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