In my last blog, we discussed the meaning of the word “Holy”. Travis commented that holy is being more and more like God and that God must make us holy. He is right, but until we realize that it is through His Holy Word that God transforms us, we will always fall short of being what God desires for us to be. In that blog, I gave an illustration about the religious people of the world who have some belief in the God of the Bible. I suggested that there are many possible places around God where people have become content to stop and live, all the while not being in the one spot at His feet they need to be to become holy and set apart as He would desire. Today, let us see if Jesus had anything to say about believing in God (In the neighborhood) and falling short of being completely with God.
The “I Believe in God Neighbors”:
Some folks believe that a confession that they believe in God is as close as they need to be. They usually back up this belief with efforts on their part to be good people, to do good deeds and to try never to be hurtful or harmful to anyone. This idea usually creates a kind of self righteousness though they do not realize that is what they have. They are basically under the assumption that by doing “good” things they can balance the scales on the bad things they might have done. They might say, “God knows our hearts”, implying their intentions are honest and sincere. Though their efforts produce some visible good works, they are keeping God at arms length. They do not have the constant hunger for God’s Word, nor do they want to be totally and completely transformed into what God has revealed for them in the Bible. They think living across the street from God is an acceptable place to live.
It is true that, we must believe that God exists. This is an essential step in discovering God’s neighborhood. The evidence for God is all around us, that all things must have come from an intelligent Creator, not random chance. But, is this belief combined with a belief that God means what He says in His Holy Word?? You might be surprised to learn that the first beings to acknowledge the fact that Jesus was the Son of God, after He began to preach, were the demons (Matt 8:29). James brings merely believing in God into perspective. "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:19-20). Essentially, those who believe God exists have reached the same level of belief as the demons of New Testament times. James says this is good, but far from the faith described in the Bible which will save (this belief is dead). By the way, the “works” mentioned here are not self righteous acts, but active faith based on obedience to God’s Word (Rom 10:17). A few words about the “works” of some neighbors.
Their, “I can do it myself” approach ignores the Holy Word which states that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23). If it were possible to be restored to a right relationship with God by believing He exists and doing good works, then it was not necessary for the Son of God to die on the cross. The implications of their thinking is that the faith taught in the New Testament is not required to be right with God. They will not cross the street, knock, enter and sit wholeheartedly at God’s feet to hear His every Word.
Did Jesus have anything to say about people who profess to believe, but do not obey? Let us see.
"And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great." (Luke 6:46-49).
I think that Jesus is drawing what should be an obvious conclusion. If one truly believes that Jesus is the “Lord” (means: one with right and authority to rule). Why do they not respect, honor and hunger for what the Lord has to say. Note that Jesus says, whoever comes to Him and “heareth my sayings and doeth them.” This describes the people at God’s feet, not those who live across the street.
Where do you really live in God’s neighborhood? You will never know till you are willing to hear His Holy Word on that subject. You may have your opinion, but God has His also. Does God mean what He says?
PS: Do not let the failures and hypocrisy you have seen in some who have claimed to be close to God, cause you to ignore God Himself. Bitterness over the behavior of struggling Christians has kept many souls across the street. Ironically, many will spend their eternity with those they allowed to keep them from Biblical faith. What do you think?