A good friend of mine in his 60s keeps saying the same thing over and over again:
“I just want to finish strong!”.
I’m not in my 60s and I wasn’t getting it for a while. The brevity of our lives feels different depending on the vantage point. The older we get‚ the closer we get to the finish line‚ the more aware we become of it and the more acute our desire to finish well becomes. I’ve been blessed to know a good number of really good men in their 60s. Men who love God‚ who love people and who want to finish strong. They want to finish well.
The more I hang out with men like this‚ the more I understand what they mean and the closer I get to developing this same awareness of the goal of finishing well and finishing strong.
Like with anything else in life‚ if your objectives aren’t clear‚ chances are‚ your ship will be tossed around in the storms of life without a guiding principle and a guiding goal.
THE JUDGEMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ‚ so that each one May receive what is due for what he has done in the body‚ whether good or evil. 2 Cor. 5:10
I want to finish well and finish strong for the Lord. I have this vision of the Judgement Seat of Christ and me having to stand before him and show for what I’ve done with my life – the good and the bad.
The Judgement Seat of Christ is not for condemnation. People who relate to God through the prism of guilt‚ need to get “saved”. Because frankly‚ once we’re saved‚ once we have received forgiveness and our status and relationship to God has been changed from “damned” to “beloved”‚ there is no condemnation for us in Christ Jesus.
But many‚ and I mean many believers are simply ignorant of this spiritual truth and waste their lives feeling like a dog chasing his tale in an unending cycle of guilt and temporary relief from it. They never experience the blessed life of having been accepted by the Father‚ the unconditional love of the Son and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
They don’t strive to live well – out of love and appreciation for who the Lord is and what great grace He has bestowed on us‚ making us His beloved children and servants.
They tremble like sinners at the mention of the Judgement Seat of Christ.
I see it as the greatest motivator ever!
I want to do well – for Him!
Not I that I’m advocating an attitude of lightness in regards to God as a Judge. Far be from it!
But I do believe that being deeply grateful for all He has done for me and my new status of a beloved child‚ son‚ servant‚ friend‚ co-heir…is exactly the reason for Jesus’ very own death on the cross and resurrection to a new life. In other words‚ God Himself wants us not to live in the guilt suppression cycle. He wants us free and he wants us confident of His favor and love!
I wake up each day with a smile on my face‚ thinking of how He watches over me and is working on my behalf‚ warring on my behalf‚ setting things up to work out – for me and those I’m in #covenant with.
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Rom. 14:12
Here’s something very important – even though I realize the Bible teaches I personally will stand before Christ and will answer to Him for myself and I won’t be able to ‘blame’ anyone else for all those missed opportunities to bring Him glory and take advantage of His power and goodness in this life‚ I am not motivated by some individualistic version of ‘personal success’. The way I see it is that ‘me’ also involves my whole #family‚ friends and the Body of Christ.
“For I have chosen him‚ that he May command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice so that the LORD May bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” Gen. 18:19
You see‚ because of covenant‚ none of us has to go through life on our own and for ourselves only. When I think of ‘me’ I think of my family being part of ‘me’; I think of the all the friends who are part of my life and all those I relate to in a meaningful way and represent the Body of Christ.
The Body of Christ‚ our spiritual family‚ are really all those with whom we are connected in a real‚ tangible way‚ much similar to the way‚ to borrow a concept from science‚ interconnected (communicating) vessels are. Christ’s life is in all‚ regardless of our individual shape and form and if we are meaningfully connected‚ life overflows from one part of His body into another and so on.
Rejoice with those who rejoice‚ weep with those who weep. Rom. 1 4:15
I can only rejoice and weep with those I have a ‘meaningful’‚ i.e. real connection with‚ hence the concept of communicating or interconnected vessels. If there’s no real connectedness and sharing‚ we spiral into isolation and reality becomes twisted. Not the way God has designed us to live life at its fullest.
Another example: have you noticed Jesus taught us to pray with the words “Our Father‚ who are in Heaven…” The entire prayer pattern‚ known as “The Lord’s Prayer” is in the plural‚ a major blow to the strange notion of isolated‚ self-centered pseudo-spirituality.
I say all this to say the following: no one really serious about finishing well and finishing strong‚ can do so on their own. We have been designed to be part of the Body of Christ. While it’s absolutely true that each one us stands ob his/her own to answer to God for who we are and for our choices and actions‚ our Father Himself has designed for us to be made part of a living ‘body’‚ an interconnected expression of the relational nature of God. Family is a testament to that‚ extended families are‚ friendships are and of course the ‘church’‚ the ekklesia of God should be as well.
Getting to a place of clear understanding who and what we are part of and who and what is part of us‚ can help us immensely in the process of striving to finish well and finish strong in Christ.