Have you noticed those giant scoreboards that dominate many athletic stadiums and arenas? Equipped with a multitude of high-tech innovations, they command the spectators’ attention during lulls in the action. And in case folks get distracted from the game, they offer replays of every play. How did the sports world ever do without them?
But you might not appreciate how massive the scoreboards really are. Years ago I was in Columbus, Ohio and a friend – a fellow Buckeye fan – asked if I wanted to visit Ohio Stadium, where the Scarlet and Gray play, to see the renovations that were going on at the time. Always game for anything Buckeye, I jumped at the opportunity. My friend knew the man serving as project manager, so we were given firsthand access few others had.
The stadium’s new scoreboard was the centerpiece of the stadium tour. It looked huge from the outside, but then came a surprise: The project manager asked if we’d like to go inside the scoreboard. Inside? Who knew you could do that? Talk about big! I discovered you could not only see its interior, but if you were so inclined, you could actually take up residence there.
There’s a TV show called, “You Live in That?” I fully expect that one day there will be a segment about somebody who has actually set up housekeeping inside one of those gigantic scoreboards. The one at Ohio Stadium could easily have accommodated enough furnishings for living comfortably.
Why do I write about this? Simply because that experience was possible only because I knew – through my friend – someone that had access. I couldn’t have walked up to the stadium gates and shouted, “Hey, let me in – I want to tour the scoreboard!” No, I needed to be with someone; that is, I needed someone who was willing to say, “It’s okay. He’s with me.”
There’s an important spiritual parallel here. In Mark 3:13-14 it says, “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” Then the passage specifies those Jesus personally selected to be “with Him.”
During Jesus’ early ministry there were many who followed Him, eager to witness His miracles and hear what He had to say. But the Lord hand-picked certain people to be with Him full-time, and He imparted to them special powers do perform work on His behalf. He’s still doing that today, asking to us to serve as “Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
But there’s an even more important element to being “with Christ.” One day our days on earth will come to an end. The Bible tells us then “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). What will happen then?
We’d like to think that on balance, our good deeds will outweigh the bad, prompting God to declare, “Well, you haven’t been too bad. Come into My heaven.” Unfortunately, that’s not how it works, according to the Scriptures. Romans 3:10-12 bluntly states, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God…there is no one who does good, not even one.” And a bit later we’re told, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
We’ve heard about the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. But that sounds like bad news. Very bad news. What can we do? The Bible declares that no matter how hard we try, we’re not good enough. We’ll never measure up. God’s standard isn’t good works vs. bad, but rather, absolute perfection. Whoa!
This is where the good news comes in, the part about being “with Christ.” We also find it in the New Testament book of Romans. The apostle Paul, after acknowledging his ongoing struggles with not doing the things he knows he should be doing, and doing the things he knows he shouldn’t, offers the solution to his – and our – problem.
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!... Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 7:24-8:2).
The day will come when each of us stands before the God of all eternity, and perhaps we’ll be asked on what basis we deserve to become part of His eternal kingdom. The reality will be that we don’t deserve it, not at all. But then, because of what Jesus has done for us, we can say something like, “I’m with Him.” Or better yet, Jesus will say, “He (or she) is with Me.” That tops being invited to go inside a fancy football stadium scoreboard any day!