Two weeks of the 2017 NFL Season are in the books and the teams are off and running. Over the next four months a few will rise to the top as they learn to be successful against different opponents each week. I just hope my Dolphins are one of them!
The opening of the season reminds me of a story a friend shared with me. A few years ago, his company subcontracted a job at the home of Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins. Because of the fierce rivalry, all employees were instructed not to wear any Dallas Cowboy paraphernalia whatsoever. It may sound a little crazy, but the one who pays the bills can usually set whatever rules he wants.
Well, as you might expect, one employee decided to test the limits. Instead of showing up in burgundy and gold, or even in neutral colors promoting no team at all, he decided he’d wear his Cowboys’ hat. Just for kicks, I’m sure. When he arrived at the gate for work that morning, however, he was denied entry in no uncertain terms. He had to wait outside until a relative came to take him home. The next day, he left his blue and silver in the closet as he humbly reported for duty.
That incident reminded me of the rebellious streak in each of us. Whether it’s an elementary student in a classroom, an employee on the job, or a driver on the interstate, we all seem to push against the rules, especially if we don’t like them. Nothing says, “Touch me,” like a wet paint sign.
Too often we do the same with God. In our sinful nature, we push against the rules He’s put in place. Although our limited perspective may cause us to think He’s being arbitrary, there’s a purpose and a reason for every boundary He’s drawn. He’s not trying to deny us pleasure or advance His own ego, but His every word and effort is for our benefit.
From the very beginning of time, the serpent questioned God’s wisdom in drawing a boundary around the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Surely God was trying to keep His children from something pleasurable. But when Adam and Eve bought that lie, they suffered the consequences and subjected the rest of their offspring to the same fate.
Still today, we think God doesn’t really mean what He says. When He says no one with sin can enter heaven’s gate, He means it! Let us not mistakenly believe He will somehow overlook our arrogance in trying to enter with it anyway.
It’s not that He doesn’t want us with Him. He absolutely does. He just cannot tolerate sin nor that which is contaminated by it. And so, He Himself made a way for us to enter despite our sin. He sent Jesus to live a sin-free life and then die on the cross to pay for our sin and to erase it from our record so that we might be able to be with Him. The cost to Him was enormous, but He offers this gift of forgiveness without charge to whoever will receive it.
So we should understand, then, how God would be especially particular about not allowing into His heaven that which killed His Son, nor anyone who will not receive the gift Jesus died to give them. It’s His heaven and He’s paid the bill. He can and does set the rules regarding who can enter and who cannot. Even more distasteful than a Cowboys’ hat to a Redskins’ owner is sin to God, for it was sin that caused the death of His Son and separated Him from the creatures He loves the most.
In Revelation 21, Jesus Himself tells us the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, idolaters and all liars will be prohibited from entering heaven’s glory and Paul adds greedy persons, drunkards, slanderers and others to this list. But Paul also says, that’s what some of us were before we were washed and justified by Jesus. Thanks to His blood, if we’ve accepted God’s gift, our filthy uniforms have been replaced with Jesus’ own righteousness and we are free to enter!
As the football players don their bright team colors each week, may they remind us of the importance of showing up properly dressed for Heaven!
In Jesus, George