Chapel talk: Knowing God supercedes good deeds

January 12, 2016 / by / 0 Comment

By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau

The hardest thing to understand about our relationship with God, pastor Riccardo Stewart of Redemption Tempe told Chapel Monday morning at Grand Canyon University Arena, is that it doesn’t relate at all to what happens here on Earth.

In discussing the difference between religion and relationship, specifically our relationship with God, Stewart talked of how we tend to focus on the things we do, as if they’re some sort of spiritual scorecard. But as Paul taught in Philippians 3:1-10, that idea actually is out of focus.

Riccardo Stewart brought an engaging style to his first Chapel address Monday.

Riccardo Stewart brought an engaging style to his first Chapel address Monday.

“Paul is saying, ‘I want to warn you from that, because you and I can do all the religious activities and on the external we can look like we got it, but we really could be in religion and we may not be in relationship with God Himself,’” said Stewart, a former Arizona State football player who was addressing GCU’s Chapel for the first time.

The person who loves the least in a relationship usually has the most control, Stewart said, and the person who loves the most tends to give the most. But God loves us the most and also gives the most.

“To gain Christ and to win Christ is actually acknowledging that you can’t,” Stewart said. “In order to win Christ or to succeed is actually to be able to acknowledge your failure. This is why Christians should never walk around with a smug attitude.”

He noted that we often put on a false front to the outside world in the hope of being looked at a certain way, but God sees right through it. The closest thing to it is the relationship between a husband and wife.

“One of the beautiful things about marriage,” Stewart said, “is to truly be exposed to the one who loves you.”

And then there’s the idea that to get somewhere in life we have to do something to earn it, such as finding a job or a spouse. “It’s hard for us to accept God as a gift, but that’s exactly what He is,” Stewart said.

The best analogy Stewart drew was of a child who receives a gift and just accepts it without any talk of paying it back. Adults worry about reciprocating if their gift to someone doesn’t match what they received, but that thought doesn’t cross kids’ minds because, like God’s love for us, they could never do nearly as much in return.

“They get it. They just are able to receive the gift,” he said.

So the answer is to understand that God doesn’t accept us simply because of what we do. As Stewart put it, “Love is not a transaction.” We should want to resemble God.

“Paul gives us a glimpse here by saying,‘All of these things, these religious things, they matter. … But they all flow out of the relationship we have with Jesus in knowing Him.’”

● For a replay of Stewart’s talk, click here.

● Next week: No Chapel (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or



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