Can you remember back to your childhood Sunday School days? Did you ever make crowns of yellow construction paper, symbolizing the crowns we’d someday wear in heaven?
In my class, we were encouraged to add colorful cut-out jewels, to represent all the good deeds we would do for Jesus. The idea was he would reward us for our obedience. And didn’t we all want beautiful, sparkling crowns to wear when we got to heaven?
My teachers may be commended for encouraging us to make wise choices. But I’m not sure where the scripture supports jewel awards for righteous behavior. Was it inferred from Isaiah 61:10b? “As a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
You probably remember: the bridegroom is an image used several times in scripture to represent Jesus (Matthew 9:15), and the bride represents God’s people (Revelation 19:6-8). But that still doesn’t explain decisively what the jewels are.
On the other hand, there are passages that mention crowns. Crowns that…
…will last forever, won by running the race of the Christian life with perseverance (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
…represent those believers who are in heaven as the result of our efforts. They will be our crown—our glory and joy (1 Thessalonians 2:19).
…God has promised—a crown of life to those who love him (James 1:12). Revelation 2:10 also speaks of this crown.
…we’ll receive when Jesus appears—crowns of glory (1 Peter 5:4)!
But nothing about jewels in those passages. And to be honest, the crown references are more than likely imagery and metaphors—not actual crowns.
As I’ve gotten older, even the teaching that “crowns await us in heaven” has bothered me. Striving for obedience and bringing others toward commitment to Jesus for crowns seems so selfishly motivated, so mercenary. Jesus has already given me eternal life, his loving care, his Word, and countless other blessings.
How dare I say, “Oh, and one more thing. Please honor me for my good deeds with some lovely gold crowns, alright?”
I don’t want to be like the child who sits under the Christmas tree, surrounded by mountains of crumpled gift wrap and new toys, who says, “Is that all?”
Then I came across Revelation 4:9-11 and discovered…
IF we receive crowns, we won’t be wearing them.
And we won’t be needing lovely showcases in which to display our crowns either.
Instead, perhaps we will be privileged to follow the example of the twenty-four elders:
“Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him…and worship him…They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
This totally changes my motivation for earning crowns. They aren’t trophies at all. They may become objects of praise, with which to honor our Savior!
That moment will be the epitome of worship–total immersion in the awesome presence of holy God. Our hearts will be bursting with ecstatic joy, way beyond any former worship experience, as we reverence Jesus supremely.
And cast down our golden crowns for his glory.
Can you picture it?
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