At Gateway Church in Austin, we are in a series called “Legacy.”
To watch or listen to the message, go to www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.
To dive deeper, go to www.gatewaychurch.com/nextsteps.
John Burke shared at the McNeil campus, and I spoke at the South Campus. Here are some of the ideas we shared:
Did you know that God has a Hall of Fame? Heaven has it’s own Hall of Fame that’s all about how you play the Game of Life. God’s your biggest fan and believes you can actually be inducted into His Hall of Fame.
How do you get into it? Hebrews Chapter 11 tells us. In Hebrews 11 there’s a partial list of the Old Testament Hall of Famers, go read it this week. What you’ll see are the summary stats of all these men and women, every summary starts like this: “By faith Abraham, By faith Sarah, by faith Moses, by faith Rahab, by faith David” and the summary statement about all these is found in Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
So the first stat on God’s player card is faith. Do you believe in Him, do you love God, do you trust Him? As we talk about leaving a Legacy through what you do, it’s very important you understand something: you don’t earn your way into Heaven. Being made right with God is not something you earn with your player stats—it’s God’s gift to you. Anyone who wants relationship with God can have it—regardless of your past, independent of your deeds. When we open our hearts to God—recognizing our need for forgiveness paid for by Jesus, and wanting relationship, He says we become His adopted Children and citizens of Heaven. By God’s Grace, His favor. Like Mark Twain said, “Heaven goes by favor, if it went by merit, you’d stay out and your dog would go in.” So faith—simply trusting God’s forgiveness and favor/grace—that makes people citizens of Heaven.
Notice what else that verse said, the faith Hall of Famers not only trusted God, but also believed God is a rewarder. Some people really misunderstand Christian faith. They think that because God is so loving and Grace giving, forgives all our sins, adopts us as his own that their deeds don’t matter. That’s totally wrong. In God’s Game of Life, there’s relational status and then there are rewards based on deeds.
Your deeds don’t determine your relational status with God any more than a Pro Athlete’s stat card determines which family he belongs to. Tony Parker may have a horrible year and get fired from the Spurs, but his parents aren’t going to disown him. God promises to never disown us regardless of our stats. But it’s patently false to think our deeds don’t matter. God wants us to know that He is a Rewarder of those who play well in His Game of Life.
Jesus modeled the perfect game, and he also Coached us in how to win and what God rewards. Actually, we have recorded a few Locker room talks Jesus gave. The first came when James and John, two brothers who were very competitive—wanted to win—they come up to Jesus and said. “Hey Jesus, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” Like little kids—they’re about to ask BIG, so they want to trick mom or dad into committing before knowing. Jesus says, “what do you want?” They say “We want the 2 greatest positions of honor in heaven. Go big or go home was their motto. What’s interesting, Jesus doesn’t chastise them for wanting to be Great in God’s Hall of Fame—he says, “Can you serve, give, and sacrifice like I’m going to?” They have no idea, but say “Oh, yeah—we’ll do whatever it takes.” But they don’t understand how to play the Game of Life by God’s Kingdom rules at all. The other disciples get jealous that positioning for greatness and they all get in a fight about who deserves to be Greatest.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45
God’s Kingdom rules are counter-intuitive to the world’s ways. Jesus modeled it. Jesus had all kinds of power, authority, rank, but he didn’t use it to serve his own ego, he used it to serve people and do God’s will—even to the point of laying down his life. So let me ask you—are you just serving your own agenda—to make yourself look great in the eyes of others, or in corporate America, or school? Or are serving God’s agenda? Are you serving others believing that God is a rewarder of those who do?
This doesn’t mean serving God is drudgery or doing things we hate doing. God has given us unique positions on His Team and when we are serving as He designed—it’s incredibly fulfilling now, and rewarding later.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord…Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
God has created us each unique. We have unique gifts, unique positions to play, on His team for the common good. The church is God’s idea. He uses us all together to serve one another and the world around us. It starts by getting off the bench and into the game as His church—His team. In fact, God views each local church as His Body to be His hands and feet to others.
God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:24-27
Jesus said, The Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. Matthew 16:27 And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” Matthew 10:42 Jesus made it really clear that what you do to serve one another—your acts of service, being His body, serving when no one sees—that counts because God sees, and God will reward every little unseen act of service.
For some reason, people get confused about rewards in Heaven, but the Scriptures are really clear that our good deeds DO matter—not for relationship with God but for how we are rewarded in the life that lasts. Paul explains it with a building Metaphor based off Jesus question of whether we’re building our lives on a solid foundation (to serve God) or on sand that’s gonna wash away one day (self-serving):
No one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, each builder’s work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test what kind of work each has done. If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15
Paul says your life is building something. If you put your faith in God, you’re building on a foundation that lasts. You will be saved (you belong to God’s family forever). With that foundation, some people just keep living for themselves—not to serve God or others—but just serving self is like building with wood, hay, and straw. It won’t withstand the test of a fire. Paul paints this picture of someone running out of a burning house in their underwear—yeah, they made it safely into Heaven, but with nothing really to show for all of life’s work. You don’t want that to be the reward for all of life’s labor.
You can build a life with things that last.
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do….” Ephesians 6:7-8
Serving God wholeheartedly with your gifts, time, resources as part of his church—that will last and be rewarded. Serving and Loving the people you work with (doing your work to serve God—will be rewarded), serving your spouse and kids or mom, dad, siblings—all that is done from the motive of serving the Lord will last and be rewarded in the Heaven.
People ask, “What’s the reward?” We don’t know but anything good in this life comes from God, so it’s gonna be good. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Trust me, the rewards God promises will be better than anything you can imagine.
When the Game of Life is over, what do you want your player card to say? Live for God’s Hall of Fame.