The Saskatchewan Roughriders were leading late in the Fourth Quarter by a couple points. The Montreal Allouettes had brought the football all the way down into the Saskatchewan end of the field in the dying seconds.
Time was running out for the Allouettes. The last play of the game would decide it. If their kicker could get the football between the goal posts in the Saskatchewan end zone, three points would win the Grey Cup for Montreal. The kicker missed by a hair in getting the field goal.
But it was not to be Saskatchewan’s day.
As soon as the errant ball was caught, referees’ whistles blew and flags went down. Even though Roughrider players and fans had begun to celebrate their seeming victory, suddenly the mood changed.
Too many men – that was the penalty. During the kick play, too many green sweater players had been on the field than was allowed according to the rule book. The play would have to be redone, this time 10-yards closer for Montreal.
And this time, the Allouette kicker nailed it. Three extra points on the board. Montreal wins the Grey Cup.
What so many remember about that 2009 Grey Cup Final was how Saskatchewan blew it. How they lost the biggest game in their lives, on a technicality.
You may think that this outcome was justified. The rules were broken. The referees caught the mistake. And justice was done. That’s the way the game is, right? Maybe the game of life, as well?
I often think about that game a few years ago as an example of how one wins in the kingdom of the world. The only way to win in the world is to earn your points, climb the ladder of success, or get lucky – and usually by either defeating others in your path on your own merit or by knowing the right people. Competition and a win-lose mentality under-gird these kingdom values.
When Jesus tells Pilate that if his kingdom was of this world his followers would be fighting to get Jesus out of his predicament and arrest (John 18:36), Jesus is describing how very different his kingdom is not only from the world of Pilate’s day, but ours as well.
So, what is Jesus’ kingdom all about? How can we find out about it?
One way of answering that question is to take the opposite of what the world is about. So, if in the world you lose or win on a technicality, in God’s kingdom you don’t. In fact God’s kingdom can be described as a win-win scenario for all the players – yes, that’s you and me and everyone. In God’s kingdom you don’t enter it based on how many points you have by the end of life, you enter it undeserving so, usually as a vulnerable baby in a baptismal font.
In short, God’s kingdom is about unconditional and undeserving love and grace. It’s about people, following in Jesus’ way, caring for people in mutual compassion, mercy and forgiveness.
There’s no being saved on a technicality here. Our winning salvation is not based on legalism and an appeal to the rule book. “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17). Because our salvation is not about us. It’s about God – God’s love, God’s grace – it’s what God does.
The good news here is that even though we may think we don’t deserve the big ‘W’, even though our lives may be sordid with sin, even though we might not believe we have anything worthy of God …. surprise!
You are the greatest winner in God’s kingdom. Because Christ is King!