Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Competing according to the rules

Meditation for the week of August 24, 2008

2 Timothy 2:5
And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

Some of us have been marveling at the dedication, ability and determination that have been evident in the Olympic Games in China the past couple of weeks. The skill levels are so high, the coaching is so good, and the athletes are so well trained that very little distinguishes a winner from a loser. But a winner gets a gold medal and a loser doesn’t. So what must it be like when an athlete that has been given the gold medal has it taken away because he or she has violated the “rules”? This has happened to a number of athletes over the years.

We don’t like to think about rules in our relationship with the Lord today. But I am convinced that there will be no gold medal at the end of our journey down here, unless we know and abide by His “rules.” We know that our salvation is a gift but as servants of the Lord there will be rewards for faithfulness when we meet the Lord. Rules are said to make us legalistic. I am personally against autocratic leadership which can be legalistic, and I am personally against making rules where the Lord has not made them. However, the Lord has rules and when we violate them we hurt ourselves and we hurt those around us. Most of all we hurt the Lord. If we believe that Jesus should be both Lord and Saviour, then we must believe that the Lord has rules.

Last week Rick Warren interviewed Barak Obama and John McCain at Saddleback Church. Apparently, there were a number of places where those in the know feel the candidates mislead the American people, but what hurt is that Rick Warren, a prominent leader in Christian circles, also mislead the American people. It appears that he violated the rule that he needed to be totally transparent with regard to the “rules” of the forum.

He said that there had been a coin toss and that Barak had been chosen to go first based on that coin toss. Most coin tosses are done in the presence of those who win or lose. This coin toss was done a month or so earlier when the candidates were not present according to Rick Warren when asked about it later. (See the CNN transcript of the Larry King interview on August 18, 2008). Since this wasn’t a debate but really two back-to-back interviews, Rick told us that John was in a “cone of silence” while the interview with Barak was going on. However, Rick did not know that John McCain was in a “cone of silence” during the interview. In fact he knew John McCain was not in the building when he said he had expected him to be there. Now of course it can’t be proved that McCain seemed to shine because of he had prior knowledge of the questions, nor can it be proved that he is clairvoyant even though he answered questions that were going to be asked before they were asked. But it can be proved that Rick Warren did not know for sure that John McCain was in a “cone of silence.” He now says using that term was a joke. (See the Hannity & Colmes interview on Fox News on August 19, 2008). I listened to Rick Warren tell us at least twice that John McCain was in a “cone of silence” and it didn’t seem like a joke to me. By asking John McCain how he liked the “cone of silence” at the beginning of his interview with him, he allowed McCain to give the impression he was there when he was actually in a motorcade at least some of the time. Rick Warren did the Lord a great disservice by telling the American people something that he did not know to be true.

Christianity today is becoming so culturally oriented that we have forgotten that the Lord still has rules as to how the kingdom is to be promoted and as to how the hearts of men are to be won. I hear Christians say that new testament Biblical Christianity doesn’t work today. They seem to be saying that the Lord’s rules are outdated. If the rules have changed, then how do we know that we are still saved only by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus? Has that changed too?

I wonder, how many of us are going to be surprised to find out when we met the Lord that we had great success down here but that we will have no gold medal up there because we ignored the “rules.”

Bruce Collins

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