West Point Military Academy has a curious tradition. In sports the acronym GOAT means the greatest of all time. Did you know that West Point has a GOAT as well? Here the GOAT is the graduating class’s worst student. The one who graduates last in their class. Yet the GOAT is not shunned. In fact, the GOAT gets to receive $1 from every member of the class, adding up to over $1,000. They also receive the loudest applause during the graduation ceremony.
Because getting into West Point is difficult, staying there is hard. If you make it all four years than you deserve to celebrate. They celebrate the last person to cross the finished line. Not because they are the best, but because they finished. Many won’t, can’t or don’t.
When we talk about heaven, we often talk about the people we think “belong” there. Those who “should” be there. Yet the truth is when you die, and you fully understand the weight of sin, there will be two surprises. The first is that you are allowed in. The second will be that “that” person is allowed in while “that other person” is not.
Getting to heaven is not about being the first in the race. Or the strongest, or the best…
It’s about faith that Jesus Christ died for your sins.
You can’t add to that or take away from that.
As John wrote in 1 John 2:2 (NIV)
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
And in Ephesians 2:8-9 we are told
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Your faith opens to you the door of heaven. SO what is your job here? To cheer people on. To celebrate every sinner turned into a saint. To decrease so that Christ may increase. If you think you are the first to become the last. To sing praises to God, and lift the body of Christ, his church, up in prayer.
As you look a 2023, make it less about being the greatest of all time, and instead celebrate what God is doing for His people. It’s not about being the best my friends, it’s about His love. So, this year, how will you respond to it? Who will you cheer on, who will you celebrate with?
Not the first, ok with being the last,
Christ first in everything