Judged by Another

Nov 16, 2021 | Sports Friends The Americas

One spring evening, a coach was kicking a soccer ball around after practice with a few of the Middle Eastern boys on his youngest team. They were waiting for the girls team to finish up, and monkey-in-the-middle was the game of choice for these seven, nine, and twelve year olds. Truth be told, the coach was getting a bit irritated at how the boys kept “accidentally” messing up the girls’ practice, and he was ready for the evening to be over with. But he waited with his seven-year-old son who was also part of the little circle, and as they passed the ball back and forth, conversation wandered along the lines of everyday life and experiences.

“Hey Coach, are you fasting? We’re fasting for Ramadan.” The nine-year-old was probably feeling his stomach growl now that practice was over and he was anticipating the after-sunset meal ahead of him. The coach answered simply, “Well, sometimes I fast, but it’s a different kind of fasting.” He was taken aback by the boy’s quick response as he applied his religion’s teaching to the situation: “Okay. Hey Coach, are you going to hell?” 

Momentarily surprised by the direct and very significant inquiry, the coach then replied with a happy confidence, “Nope. Actually, I’m going to Heaven, 100%!” The oldest of the boys then interjected, “No one can know if they are going to Heaven or Hell! On the last day God is going to judge us based on our deeds.” 

“No,” the coach explained. “God’s not going to judge me based on my deeds. On the last day, He’s going to judge me based on the deeds of another person.” 

What?!” cried the two older boys together. “How is that possible?”

The ball was at the coach’s foot and everyone had paused to hear the answer. Before he could say a word, though, the seven-year-old boy who still spoke little English had concluded, “I know how it’s possible for you!” He raised up his forearms perpendicular to each other. “You know, guys,” he urged his friends, “the ’T’!”

The coach was trying to follow his thought process and figure out what the boy was talking about when his son caught hold of the idea. “Oh yeah! The cross! That’s right! Daddy, he’s talking about the cross!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” The coach went on. “It’s because of what Jesus did for me.” 

His young son tag-teamed again with a quick and clear confession of faith. “Yes! The cross makes it so that when we die, God looks at Jesus instead of all our sin, all our mistakes… and oh man, I sin a lot! I disobey a lot! But instead of looking at my sin and my disobedience, He looks at Jesus.”

There it was: the gospel from the mouth of a seven-year-old, and sweeter than anything the coach could have thought to say. The older boys were intrigued by the concept and looked to their elder and teacher. “Coach, what do you think?”

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” the coach stated. “It matters what’s true. And what he just said is true. It’s not just true for me and him, though. It’s true for you, too.”

It’s shocking. It’s unheard of and impossible to those who live according to religious commands and try to outweigh their bad behavior with good works. It’s grace. How can one ever be truly confident of peace with God? The only way God Himself made it possible: through a perfect atonement that speaks infinitely louder than all the bad behavior combined. Perfect forgiveness, perfect love, perfect acceptance through Jesus Christ. What’s more, He also gives supernatural power to do actually good works performed in love rather than fear or striving!

What a remarkable God, this God of the Bible, who has gifted us with both peace and promise. What an invitation, His call for all to make it theirs.