I am a pretty competitive person. I like to win. I like to be right. I like to excel. And while I don’t really like the spotlight, I do want people’s private thoughts about me to be somewhere near the “she’s pretty awesome” end of the spectrum.
The way we typically identify “excellence” is through comparison. Students are accepted into universities based upon criteria that compares students to one another. People are chosen for jobs (and promotions) based upon how they compare to the other applicants.
I think it’s great to strive for excellence. I mean, you want your doctor to be near the top of their field, right? No one says, “I want the guy who didn’t care to study, didn’t strive for excellence, and is on the verge of having his medical license revoked for neglect to do my surgery!”
The trouble starts when we begin to live as if our entry into heaven is based upon how well we live compared to others. Having been saved by grace, we now live like we must perform to certain criteria to make our salvation secure.
Lysa TerKeurst tells this great story about when she and some friends were in California with some free time. She really wanted to see “The Price is Right.” She described waiting in line to be in the studio audience, wanting her name to be called, competing on the show, and getting all the prices wrong (apparently the cost of living is a little different in California than in North Carolina). Then she asks the question – what will it be like when we are waiting for our name to be called from the Book of Life on Judgement Day? Will we be on the edge of our seats longing for our name to be called?
That thought caused me to stop and think about Judgement Day. For someone who does not believe in the saving power of Jesus, Lysa’s thought about waiting for our name to be called on Judgement Day is a potentially frightening one. And I have to admit that even as a believer there were a lot of years where I struggled to know with certainty my name would be called from the Book of Life.
Part of the reason the gospel is so radical is because it turns the tables on how we view ourselves. It takes the focus off of our performance with respect to others and looks completely at how Christ performed. Period. There is no comparison.
So as I thought about this recently, with respect to “The Price is Right,” I realized that on that day, those of us who have trusted in Christ will not be waiting to be called as contestants. On that day, the show is over. The contest is already won.
Jesus waited from creation to Christmas to enter the studio audience. Jesus’ name was called to play “The Price is Right.” Jesus got all the prices right as he walked among us and got to go to the big stage on the cross to compete for what was behind door #1 or #2. And he knew just which door to pick to get the grand prize, too. The Price WAS Right. He got it all and he has won.
And the coolest thing is: we aren’t in the studio audience. We don’t have to compete to win. Do you know where we are sitting?
We are sitting behind door #1. We are the prize. We are sitting behind that door waiting to be claimed. We are the prize that Jesus won. We are the treasure for which he was competing. When God announces that Jesus got exactly the right price, and the door slides off to the left, we are the very thing Jesus longs most to see. We are what makes him jump up and down in excitement, weep with joy, and kiss the host (his Father!!) in affection for the opportunity to see this day.
You were bought with a price.
The price was right.
You are a prize. You are a treasure.
You bring delight, joy, and deep affection to the one who won you for himself to present you to his Father.
Do you live like that? Or do you live in the anxiety of competing to win the game by doing everything right to gain the favor of God and man?
Can you cling to the truth that you are the prize? You are not sitting in the studio audience waiting to be called. You do not have to prove yourself worthy to get onto the big stage. You do not have to compete. You do not have to risk guessing the wrong door.
You are sitting behind the door, waiting to be revealed in all your splendor when the door of this life slips away. Waiting to be claimed by the true victor who delights to call you his own. The victor who knows exactly the right price.