My childhood pastor was a football guy. Not only did he play football during his formative years; he also was a pastor in Green Bay, Wisconsin, a city famous for its green-and-gold football addiction.
Perhaps that’s why he brought a football to the youth group when he wanted to teach us about faith. He said, “When a running back crosses the goal line, what does he need in his hands to score a touchdown?” (We mumbled the obvious answer.) “A football. And how tightly does that running back have to hold on to it to count as a touchdown? Does this count?” (He wrapped the football tightly in his arms.) “Would this count?” (He held the football away from his body, holding on to its ends with only the tips of his fingers.) Obviously, both grips get you six points.
“That’s like getting to heaven,” my pastor explained. “Jesus is like this football. Faith is like holding on to Jesus. Sometimes our faith is strong. Sometimes our faith is weak. But we get to heaven, not by the strength of our faith but by the fact that our faith is in Jesus.”
He went on to encourage us to seek strong faith, and his words have brought me great comfort over the years. When my faith is weak, I am still saved. You are too. Because Jesus is what counts. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed … nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). Even the eternal victory of seeing God’s face in heaven.