I am so glad that I do not have to earn or compete my way to heaven! I am incredibly grateful that I don’t have to stand before a panel of my peers who have the power to vote me in or out. How wonderful it is that it is “by grace we have been saved, through faith – and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Since early May, I have been participating in a digital form of the game show Survivor. There were 16 participants who started, and there are now 12 left (which might be 11 by the time this is published). At the end of each week, someone gets voted out. To avoid being voted out, participants receive an Immunity Challenge at the beginning of the week in a messenger group chat. The winner of the challenge cannot be voted out that week. The Immunity Challenge winner is determined by either being the first correct response or submitting a response that gains the most approvals from the coordinator and those already voted out.

There is also an opportunity for a participant to gain an additional vote called the Influencer Vote. This is won by having the most reactions on one of your own comments or posts made in the chat after the challenge has been issued. Winning the Influencer Vote gives the participant two votes come voting time towards the end of the week.

A person will be voted out each week until only 3 participants are left. In the final week, everyone will gather and hear out the remaining participants, who will need to argue why they should be the final winner of the event. Again, it will go to a vote to determine the winner.

As we go deeper into the game, there has been quite a lot to observe – both in my own behaviour and in others’ behaviour. Each week alliances have been formed to strongly target one person over all the others. There is a growing sense of desperation as the pool of participants grows smaller. With only 3 people able to make it through to the final round, at some point, everyone else will be voted out. Unlike Survivor in real life where you can see people talking to each other or notice their absence, taking it online means everything is done behind closed doors (or in various group or individual chats). Who is talking to who? What are they saying? Are they ganging up on me? Who can I trust? To add a further twist, all the participants are known to each other, and they see each other on a regular basis in real life. It feels like the only surety is that someone will be voted out each week.

Can you imagine what life would be like if this was what getting into heaven required? Imagine what life would be like if your position in heaven and your eternal inheritance was based on how well you did in this life in comparison to others? What if you end up with the wrong crew or on your own and you get voted out early? What if you didn’t know who to trust because you didn’t know if they were using you to try to get ahead in the game? I feel like this can be reflective of school playground, workplace, and family politics at times.

The good news is – this isn’t the way God operates. PHEW! The winner’s crown (of righteousness) is not won by how well you manipulate relationships. It is not won by the people’s vote. Rather, it is granted on the basis of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. It is God’s gift to us. Even though, when left to our own efforts, all we deserve is death, God has given us life in Jesus!

Take a moment right now – stop what you’re doing – and give thanks to God for the incredible grace that he has poured out on us in Jesus. May that bring you joy, peace, and hope today, as we look ahead to the day when we will be forever crowned with Jesus’ righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8).

Keep trusting Jesus,