How Will We Be Greeted By God in Eternity?

At the graduation ceremony at Dallas Theological Seminary, an allusion was made to “Well done, good and faithful servant,” at least three times.  This phrase is from a parable Jesus told in Matthew 25 in which a man entrusts money to three servants in the hope that they will use it well in his absence.  The two who invested are rewarded by their master and told, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!”

If we are the servants and God is the master, it’s a nice thought that we might be greeted by him in our resurrected bodies with this kind of affirmation.  But the near obsession evangelicals have with this verse concerns me.  It feels very close to a works-based faith and a desire that God see our actions, our ministry, our goodness, and commend us for it.

Or maybe I’m just wired differently, because if there is one thing I want to hear God say, it is, “I love you.”  I’ve spent my whole life working to impress people.  I live for approval, and I’m just self-conscious enough to crave constant compliments.  That kind of affirmation is fleeting, and I am never satisfied.  I don’t want to work for God’s affection.  I don’t want his affection to be based upon my work. 

And it’s not.  It absolutely is not.  That is the whole beautiful point of Christianity.  Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  We are sinners and saints, a mess of humanity that trips over our feet even as we work for the God who loves us.  And while I do think that God desires our obedience and loves to see us use the gifts and talents he has given us….I don’t want to hear any of that when I first see God face to face.

Let someone else hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  I want to make eye contact with Jesus, God made flesh, and I want him to hold his arms wide so I can sprint into his embrace.  I want him to whisper, “I love you,” into my hair as I cling to him.  I don’t want a performance review.  I want love.


3 thoughts on “How Will We Be Greeted By God in Eternity?

  1. tommymeisel May 13, 2015 / 12:05 pm

    Tricia, you are dead on here. As a former Catholic, I was raised in an environment that required me to earn my salvation, and you can imagine how frustrating that was. We lived in fear that we would die with a mortal sin on our soul and end up in Hell for eternity. Later in life I realized that salvation was a free gift from God earned by the sacrifice of his Son Jesus, and that once I accepted it, I would not lose it. I no longer had to “earn” my way into heaven, I already had the ticket in my pocket. I would not be going to Hell if I died with sin in me.
    The willingness of so many Christians to forget this great free gift they’ve been given and try to earn it instead always amazes me. How can they miss the point so easily? Some time ago I got into a great argument in our Sunday School class about whether we would have stars in our crowns in heaven. (Based on the hymn “Will there be any stars in my crown?) These stars are earned by earthly good works. I said there would be no stars in heaven whereby we could rank ourselves and show that we had been better than another. This was totally unacceptable to me. I did not win the argument however.
    People will say that works righteousness is wrong and then turn around and embrace it because it fits with human expectations, i.e. rewards for good actions. To me, that is the beauty and mystery of the Gospel, that God loves me, and has provided salvation for me, and I did not and do not have to earn it with my deeds, other than the deed of accepting the gift.
    Too bad we won’t have the stars in our crowns to parade before the rest….


    • Tricia May 13, 2015 / 12:34 pm

      I completely agree! Stars in the crown is just another way of feeling good about our accomplishments, and I will never understand how it fits into a gospel centered on grace.


  2. Virginia Campbell May 13, 2015 / 9:00 pm

    I totally agree!! “I Can Only Imagine” what that day will be, when I go through those gates of heaven!!


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