We visited yet another church yesterday -- yet another that I think we're not interested in. But the sermon on the rich young ruler did prompt some interesting thought and discussion over lunch . . .
. . . on sacrificing. Jesus asked that man to give up all his wealth. He didn't ask every rich person he met to give up all his wealth. But this young man apparently needed to do so because his wealth was what was standing in the way of his following Jesus. And he went away sad, because he wasn't willing to give it up. So, if I met Jesus face to face and asked him what I needed to do to inherit eternal life, what would he tell me to give up? What's the thing standing in my way?
. . . on forgiveness. Something in our discussion prompted my eldest to remark, "I don't get it. People say that when you do awful stuff, you can be forgiven -- it's not going to stand in the way of your getting into heaven. But then people say that if you continue to sin, you won't get into heaven. Which is it?" Good question. I replied that it's a matter of the heart.
There's Person A, who loves God and believes Jesus' death was on her behalf and is grateful for God's forgiveness. She accepts Christ as her Lord and genuinely strives to do what He wants her to do. She messes up sometimes, as we all do, and it grieves her when she does because she wants to please her Lord. And as she grows in her relationship with God, she also grows in holiness.
Then there's Person B, who loves God and believes Jesus' death was on her behalf and is grateful for God's forgiveness. In fact, she's very grateful, because she sins all the time and doesn't really want to stop sinning. Her sin doesn't grieve her; she's more grieved at the idea of having to give up the stuff that she enjoys so much. Deep down, she doesn't really believe that what God has in mind for her is better than this, so she never really trusts Him enough to let go. So, she doesn't ever really grow in her relationship with God, but she certainly grows in her hypocrisy.
Person A is forgiven. Person B might not be. Person B is still her own lord.
. . . on knowing what God wants. As the discussion continues, my eldest got to the question of, "How are we supposed to know what God wants us to do in every situation?" A timely question -- one hubby and I have dealt with all summer long with all the little decisions we had to make in the course of this move.
So I shared with her the conviction I had this summer. The fact is, there are scads of things that we know perfectly well that God wants us to do. God wants us to pray. God wants us to know his Word. God wants us to forgive those who wrong us. God wants us to actively love our neighbor. God wants us to help the poor. God wants us to be actively involved in a church body. God wants us to rejoice in Him always. And how many of these things are we doing on a regular basis? How many of these basic, undeniable things are we blowing off, presuming on God's forgiveness? And then we're annoyed that He doesn't come through in some mighty way to show us His will about what college to go to, or what house to buy? I think if we would follow through on the basics -- the stuff we KNOW to do -- then our relationship will be solid enough to hear His voice clearly on the rest.
It's kind of like the dad who is willing to buy his daughter whatever expensive, fancy car she wants -- what car does she want him to buy? Just say the word! When really, the daughter couldn't care less about a car. She wants him to sit and talk to her once in a while.
As I said. Interesting thought and discussion.