One of the shows that has stood the test of time is America’s Funniest Videos. I don’t know how long it’s been running, but I remember watching it as a family every Sunday night after church. We definitely weren’t watching it for the weak-witty humor of Bob Saget. I don’t even think we watched it for the entertainment value of the actual videos. As I look back, I think the real reason my siblings and I fell in love with that show was watching our dad laugh uncontrollably at some of the videos. And we all knew which ones would make him lose it. Any video of a dog, cat, horse, etc. getting scared and freaking out was a guaranteed 3 minute laugh. Also, any person getting knocked down, running into something, thrown off an animal, or attacked by an animal was comedic gold. That show didn’t just strike a chord with us, but with millions of families, because it’s still running. It’s also probably still running because we are all continually doing embarrassing things, some of which get caught on camera, and if we are fortunate, earn us $10,000.
Now I don’t know if you ever did this, but for some reason, when I was younger, I made this mental connection between the Judgement Seat of Christ and America’s Funniest Home Videos. When you grow up going to church, you will eventually hear about the Judgement Seat of Christ (JSC). Of course, I didn’t just go to church as a young lad, I also went to more of a fundamentalist church, as well as a Christian Day School, so the opportunities to hear about eternal judgement and be threatened with it were much greater.
We find the teaching for the JSC in only a couple of passages of Scripture, but in 2 Corinthians 9:9-10 it states, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” Unfortunately, based on a lot of what I heard from certain Bible teachers, I had misunderstood the judgement seat of Christ for most of my Christian life. I used to think of it as some twisted version of AFV. When it was time for the Judgement seat, Jesus would gather the saints, turn down the lights, and call us one by one up to watch our biggest screw ups. I had this scene in my mind of Jesus pausing the video at some point when I had just committed some huge sin and turning to me shaking his head with this look that said, “Really?”, as the rest of the collective heavenly host gave a hushed gasp. I looked at the Judgement seat like my fundamentalist version of purgatory.
I share all this because in my last post, I talked about how our biggest sins actually happen when we do good works. Our moral deeds get hijacked by sinful motivations and it actually does us more harm than good. I think my jacked up understanding of Christ’s judgement seat led me to wreak havoc on my motivation to do right. The virus of fear infiltrated my heart and I started to use this scene to motivate me to do right. I wanted my highlight or lowlight reel at the JSC to be pretty short, so when I was tempted to do wrong, my heart used fear to choose “the good thing”.
It wasn’t until I actually started reading the Bible for myself and studying the JSC that I realized that this event was an awards ceremony, not a time to bring up our past sins. I don’t have a lot of time to unfold all of the doctrines of this subject here in this post, but I encourage you to study it yourself. Another passage of Scripture that shed some light on this heavenly event was 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, which says, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved,but only as through fire.”
Paul is teaching in this passage that Jesus is not going to bring up all of our bad stuff at the JSC. Romans 8:1, simply says, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” As followers of Jesus, who have been saved by grace through faith, we don’t have to worry about our sin ever being thrown in our faces again. He will test all of our good works with fire on that day. If the works, or our righteous deeds have been done for Christ and through Christ, then they will last. This not only changed the way I looked at the JSC, but how I saw Christ. I started to see the depths of his love and grace and His love started to be the motivating factor for my righteous choices. I started to want to serve Christ and do right because I want to bring Him glory.
When fear motivates us to do right, there is no joy in our relationship with Jesus. And when joy is absent, our entire understanding of God’s nature and the power of the gospel is distorted. It breaks my heart to think about the works of righteousness I committed that will be burned up on that day because I did good deeds out of fear and not out of love and worship. I hope that you’ll take some time today to reflect on this question: Do I obey out of fear or out of love?
Don’t let another day of your Christian life go by missing the incredible joy of living under the knowledge and understanding of God’s love, grace, and kindness through Jesus.