Jesus said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3.14-16) When most Christians hear this promise of our Lord, we are comforted that “all we need to do is believe” and we will be saved. But what does it mean to believe?
When we reflect upon our daily spiritual challenges, one thing comes to mind, at least one thing comes to my mind. Is this enough? Am I saying enough prayers? Am I giving enough time? Am I loving enough? Am I am forgiving enough? Am I helping others enough? Am I learning enough? Alternatively, I might be tempted to ask, “If I ‘do’ less, will THAT be enough? Is it ever enough?
There is a popular TV program which features stories of family members struggling to assist their loved ones to let go of years’ worth of stuff that has been piling up in their homes. In many cases the hoarders originally held on to items of value, but after years of being ignored what was originally meant for good had become wasted, and we watch the anguish as their lives are turned inside out. What was meant for good, since the hoarders never used them, was eventually taken away.
In every walk of life there comes a time when we are making great progress. Our business is growing. Our relationships are filled with joy. Everything in our life seems to be heading in just the right direction, until suddenly the proverbial ratchet gets thrown into the works and everything comes to a standstill. If you have experienced this before, you know exactly the frustration I’m describing. If you haven’t yet, don’t panic when it happens. It happens to all of us. You ever wonder why?
“Good teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?” These are the words used by a man who hoped to enter into paradise. There was only one problem. He words never entered his heart.
By now most people who read this blog have heard about Jesus Christ. You have heard about His teachings about love and forgiveness, and you have heard about the Church He established. You have heard how Jesus calls us to a different life, a life of repentance and divine grace. You have heard that no matter how bad the past has been in your life, there is always hope for the future. You have also heard that Jesus expects more from us the more that we grow closer to Him, and that sometimes it becomes increasingly difficult to choose Christ over the world.
Let’s face it. We all have done or said something for which we need to be forgiven. What we do might be unique to our situation, but the truth that we all do and say things that we should not have said or done cannot be denied. Hopefully, our family and friends forgive our momentary lapse in judgement, and our relationships move forward. But what if we aren’t forgiven? What if our family and friends refuse to forgive us? Would we feel an injustice has been done? Afterall, our mistake wasn’t intentional; it was a momentary lapse in judgement.
When we pick up our Bible and begin to read, we are faced with a challenge from God. The challenges are sometimes simple statements, but if we are genuine in our love for God, they are most often a conviction that we are not living quite like we should. He commands us to love, but we know we could always love more. He commands that we should not judge others, and we find ourselves standing in judgment just about every day. He commands us to feed, visit, clothe, offer a drink, house, cure, teach, baptize, etc. We may ask ourselves, is every word meant for me?
More often than not, when I am discussing Church participation with others I hear some variation of, “Not as often as I should.” It rarely matters what aspect of Church participation we are discussing, the response is often the same. Then there are the few that respond with, “I don’t really think we need to come to Church. I believe. The Church has too many rules to follow. God said, ‘Just believe’ and that should be enough.
If you have lived more than a few years of life, you know that life has its storms. There are times in our life when things just don’t work the way we would have hoped. Sometimes due to our own miscalculations, and at other times the storms come from circumstances beyond our control, we find ourselves in the midst of serious struggle thinking we may not survive to see the end. We begin to panic.