It is a shame that most people do not know much about their own faith, beliefs and practices. It is a shame that they stick to the highlights, the cheat notes version of the Bible. They know key passages but they don't know the wonderful depth. It is usually these people who treat God like a genie in a bottle, believing he is just here to support us in our living. Precious few Christians understand that Jesus has given us a task and we are to be found faithful in it.
It is not a game we are playing. There is a goal and we are moving toward it. Along the way we have battles, victories, learning opportunities, spiritual growth, but it is all in a forward motion. Our task as we move along is to present Jesus to as many people as we can, and for those who accept him, we are to teach them, helping them to be disciples of Jesus. We don't need to attend formal classes and get our degree in theology. We need only be part of the Church, study the Word and walk in the Spirit.
Most people do not even understand that there is a reward for our faithfulness. The reward is not salvation. If it was then salvation would not be by faith and grace but by works. Salvation is the work of God that is given to us freely in a divine act of grace. However, salvation is not the end of it. After salvation we become members of the body with the task of making disciples and when we walk in this faithfulness we will receive a crown:
I have fought well. I have finished the race, and I have been faithful. 8 So a crown will be given to me for pleasing the Lord. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Not a crown because I accepted Jesus but a crown because I pleased him. Other passages talk about the jewels that will be placed in the crown, and yet another passage speaks about how each of us will cast our crowns at Jesus' feet. I don't know about you but I want something of value to cast at his feet. I don't want to be the one walking around without a crown, demonstrating that I accepted Jesus but was not faithful in my task. And I don't want to have a jewel-less crown. When I cast it at Jesus`feet I want it to have value; not for prestige but because Jesus deserves my very best to be placed at his feet.
That means in this world nothing can touch my faith. It means in this place I will pay whatever price I must pay to remain determined to go all the way in my race. Not only must I finish this race but I must fight with style, doing all things well, to the best of the ability of the Spirit in me. No short cuts. No cheating. No quick fixes. I want to say with my last breath and say it in truth, "I have been faithful".
If you say "I don't need a crown, I only want Jesus", I applaud your love for Jesus and mourn your ignorance. The crown is a fact. It is how Jesus will set apart those who truly understood that love meant obedience. I will gladly receive the crown, not because I want a crown, but because it will please the Lord to reward his faithful servants. And those who understood what Paul meant by running the race will certainly be counted in the faithful.
We have a purpose. We are moving toward a goal. We have tasks to complete. Jesus told us to be faithful to these tasks. He told us if we really love him we will obey what he has commanded. Will you have a crown to cast at his feet?