Keith Wishum: You must participate to qualify

Published 10:51 am Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Winter Olympic games ended in Korea last year, and I didn’t win the first medal. Not even a bronze. Unfortunately, I could pass through the airport “medal detector” with no problem.

I’ve always dreamed of an Olympic medal. So, what happened?

Well, it might have helped if I had actually gone to the games. But airfare was outrageous, and it was so cold there. Plus, I’m not comfortable on snow and ice and, besides, I was much too busy. They could have just mailed my medal to me.

Even if I had gone, I wouldn’t have been allowed to participate. The folks who run that show are persnickety about whom they let in. They insist that you qualify to enter, and did I mention that I’m not very comfortable on snow and ice? I tend to fall a lot.

At any rate, I didn’t qualify, mostly because I didn’t think I could. I’ve never been on snow skis and if I had, I wouldn’t go jumping off the side of a mountain on them while running 40 to 50 mph. (And the people doing this were sober at the time! Well, the successful ones were.)

OK, so, I didn’t participate. And, I wasn’t qualified. But, I’m a nice guy. Can’t I still have a medal?

Doesn’t work that way with the games. Doesn’t work that way with God either.

According to Barna Research Group, most Americans believe in heaven and believe that they are going there, even though they aren’t participating with the team (church). Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father” (Matthew 7:21).

Oddly, this seems to be an unpopular notion in Western theology, even though the CEO of heaven said it. It’s like we’re trying to take something away from God to suggest that you can’t just sit at home and wait for your medal to be mailed.

Then there’s that pesky matter of qualifying. Some don’t participate because they figure they would never be good enough to get in anyway — kind of like me and skiing. And they are right. The qualifying part is up to God. The good news, though, is that through Jesus and his willingness to pay our way, Christians can give “thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints” (Colossians 1:12).

You can win gold — streets of gold! He will qualify you, but you must participate.


Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church, Americus