“I council thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous, therefore, and repent.” (Rev. 3:18-19)
A truly great high school football coach who cares about his players will work them hard during the late summer two-a-day conditioning drills. The football team that is heading toward a successful season can be heard groaning and complaining about the coach’s tough training methods and seemingly impossible standards for the entire six to eight weeks leading up to the first game of the regular season.
It is only after the team takes the field and discovers that they are well prepared to play high-quality football that they can look back at their coach’s emphasis on physical conditioning and the constant repetition of the same basic plays over and over again until they finally got them right.
The character lessons these players learned from their coach, about how to approach a particular challenge with intensity of purpose, hard work, and a will to never quit, often last them throughout their lifetimes, long after they stop playing football.
A God who asks little of us cannot have much of an impact upon our lives…and can never be considered great.
A compromised message from the pulpit tailored to please people will never inspire the type of commitment that will produce excellence of character in us.
A book like this one, on the subject of the high standards of God in the end-times…to have real value must inspire committed Christians to continue forward on their present journey of faith, and to jolt less dedicated Christians out of complacency.
The story of the Bible is God’s call to people to give their best, to surrender all to Jesus Christ in trust and faith.
God is a spiritual coach who demands the very best, by setting up a rigorous training program of situations and circumstances for our benefit. He does this because He loves us enough to want to see us victorious on the playing field in the actual game of life.
Dumbing-down and diluting the Christian experience to a more comfortable level, results only in mediocrity. The Holy Spirit would never inspire or condone “Christianity Light” (Acts 4:8). God is not and never has been interested in producing mediocre saints. That is why He gave us outstanding natural talents, abilities, and capacities, like His own. God created us in His image. That is why God says to us “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16).
God is the great playbook writer of the lives of faith portrayed in the Bible. The reason that God wants to compose the playbooks for our lives is that He wants to set up a regimen of spiritual training where we can be challenged to give our all…the very best we have to give.
In the area of assimilating godliness, which we initially know nothing about, we need a demanding coach to set up the program and to push us to our limits.
We won’t reach excellence in the area of Christ-like character on our own. Like learning to play championship football as a team, or learning to play classical piano at an advanced level, we need someone who is more knowledgeable than ourselves to show us the way and to push us toward a greater effort and a higher outcome.
The truly great teachers, coaches, and role models in our lives obtain our total commitment to do our best because we sense that their demanding standards are based upon the fact that they really care about our development as people.
The respect and sense of worth that is shown toward us through a coach or a teacher, who cares enough about us to demand our very best effort, will often inspire us to perform at our highest level for a lifetime.
Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus is telling us here that He has the winning play-book, and that He is the Championship Coach. Only God knows what it takes to have godly character. If we will join the team, and not quit, God will set up a tough spiritual training program for us.
God does this because He cares about us. Like an inspiring college professor, a demanding high school athletic coach, or a respected parent, we will find ourselves wanting to please God and get His approval in everything we do.
That is the greatness of Jesus Christ.
Jesus inspires a life-long commitment to excellence in the course of our life. God takes people like Abraham, Joseph, David, and Paul, and transforms them into people with spiritual character and power in the areas of life that really matter.
Abraham becomes the father of faith, Joseph leads the nation of Egypt through seven years of famine, David becomes a godly king, and Paul evangelizes the Mediterranean world.
These are the world-class results when God is our coach and we submit ourselves to His program of spiritual conditioning and training.