Move over Super Bowl and Olympics, because NBC has a new show in town! Some say it's riveting - maybe even the ultimate competition!
With a slot to fill and an hour to kill, the network plot wizards came up with…
(drum roll please)
"Minute to Win It!"
Here's the recipe for this (ahem) reality show. First, take Chef Guy Fieri in all his frosty-the-hair-man glory, next add spellbinding *stunt* competitions like blowing up a balloon and then releasing the air to blow paper cups off a table, contorting your facial muscles to move a cookie from forehead to mouth, or (wait for it!) rolling a marble to knock over a pencil standing on end - and you got game, baby!!!
Yeah, I know the prize is a million dollars, but the fine print is that you have to complete 10 of these children's party games before you earn the major bucks.
I started weeping for humanity when The Bachelor came out…now I have upgraded to full sobs.
Do you know what Minute to Win It reminds me of? This may surprise you, but this game show has religion written all over it. The word 'religion' literally means 'to bind back' - or in other words, to return to bondage. Religion is a bunch of silly rules and games made by people who look and sound like the impressive clergyman in The Princess Bride -
"Mawwiage! Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today."
Can you hear them? "Religion! Religion is what bwings us togethew today." Do you want a million dollar relationship with God? Then bind yourself back by going to church, eating this, but don't eat that, pray this way but not that way, and most importantly remember that salvation is a prize you have to earn by contorting your soul until you are spiritually beat down.
That's why Jesus hated religion. That's why He came to earth and lived a perfect life, completed all the requirements, and won the prize on our behalf. He offers - not religion - but relationship. As someone once said: All religions say "DO," but true Christianity says "DONE."
Jesus said 'done' when He cried out His dying words, "It is finished!" In Jesus' language, that phrase is one word which means '"paid in full." At that moment the door to a relationship with God opened, making all religions as useless as rolling a marble to knock over a pencil.
But you have to step through that door to enter into the most ridiculously awesome life possible. How? Listen to the truth of God penned by the Apostle Paul - i.e., the most religious man who ever lived - but who chucked it all to know Jesus Christ personally:
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it (Ephesians 2:8-9).
He (God) saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
Jesus never came to start a religion, actually just the opposite. He earned salvation for us so that we are free to receive the free gift of eternal life - and the coolest part is that it just takes a minute to pray it! It is not the prayer itself that saves us - that would be another "religious" thing. But the prayer is a reflection of your heart and a confession of belief that you are relying fully and only on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross and His resurrection from the dead.
If you're tired of the religious game show, I don't blame you. Quit the silly competition and express this prayer to the God who made you-
Dear Father, I know that I'm a sinner. I realize that my good deeds will never get me into heaven. Right now I believe that Jesus died in my place for my sins. I trust in Him alone to forgive me for all of my sins. Thank you for your free gift of eternal life.
Congratulations…you've won waaaay more than a million dollars…you have a personal and permanent relationship with your heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.
What now? Go back and tell your religious friends they can be free of bondage to manmade rules - share the good news of the gospel and tell them how you took a minute to pray it!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
This week, get together with your friends and try some of the games from "Minute to Win It." Use that as a springboard for a discussion on the difference between religion and relationship and pray for an opportunity to share the gospel.
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us (Romans 8:34).
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
For "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13).