When my father’s pilgrimage upon this earth ended five years ago today, the great old hymn “When the Role Is Called up Yonder” sang him home. How appropriate we thought as this wonderful Christian man finished his journey.
Yes, when the role is called up yonder, I’ll be there. How about you? How do you and I know we will be there? Will I be there because I mowed my neighbor’s lawn today? Did your visit with a sick friend qualify you? Does your pleasant demeanor make you a shoe-in? “Oh he is so nice; oh she is so sweet.” Are you one of those people that will help anyone in need or even give the shirt off your back? Is our assurance based on an already punched ticket to There called, “Well, I never killed anyone.” Or as a fellow used to tell me, “I’ve never missed church in over thirty years.”
If that is all you and I got we will not – be there. Not that helping a neighbor, comforting the sick, being pleasant, nice, sweet, helpful, giving, neglecting to kill someone, and being faithful in attending worship services aren’t all fabulous things, but when the role is called those things won’t even be on the table. What will be on the table is have we trusted in Jesus Christ for our salvation. The Bible tells us that God, rich in mercy and great love “even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places (There) in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-6)
The Bible also says, “For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10) Do we see the order – the horse then the cart? We always want to run the cart before the horse. We try to work to gain our salvation (or keep it); thinking God just has to pour out His grace on us. Instead, grace comes by Jesus Christ who purchased our salvation which we can only gain by faith in Him. Then we become the vessels that are useful to the Master. Then He can pour the work He has prepared for us through us upon the world.
I’m sure my neighbor is going to be very happy when she sees her lawn has already been mowed. Perhaps that was a work God poured through me to bless my neighbor. Our works done in Christ become a window to our witness and His glory. Our works matter. But they won’t get us – There.
Yes, when the role is called up yonder, I’ll be there? How about you?