I was participating in a Zoom Bible study with people I had never met. One of the participants shockingly stated, “The church pews are one of the most fertile mission fields.”
A lot of people in church don’t actually know Jesus.
There are 2 ways to be lost. We can be lost in obvious rebellion from God, or we can be lost in our own self-righteousness thinking we are “good enough” and therefore not mindful of our desperate need of God’s mercy. Jesus made use of at least two parables which demonstrated this.
The first is of a Pharisee and a tax collector (Luke 18:9-14) which Jesus told to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous yet viewed others with contempt. When the Pharisee entered the temple to pray, he recounted his good deeds before God while the tax collector pleaded, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” Jesus tells his audience that the tax collector who humbled himself was right with God, not the one trusting that his position and good works made him acceptable to God.
Even more well known, is the parable of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:11-32. By requesting his inheritance and leaving home, the younger son clearly dishonored his father and wasted the blessings his father had bestowed upon him, but what about the older bother? He lived day after day in his father’s household, but he did not emulate the character of his father. Instead of feeling joy when his brother returned home, he was angry that the prodigal was being celebrated rather than chastised. He did not share his father’s generous heart. He too failed to treasure the blessings his father had generously bestowed on him believing he was worthy and deserving of his inheritance.
In the days of King Josiah, the priest, Hilkiah, found the Book of the Law hidden inside the house of God. This seems unimaginable that the words God had given Moses to record were somehow buried underneath other things and forgotten. Even so, I wonder if a similar circumstance has occurred today. The words of the Bible are buried underneath and crowded out by other sources of wisdom such as books written by spiritual men and women of our day, knowledge found in the theories of scientists, or the alarming circumstances broadcast by journalists.
Jesus gives us a stern warning in Matthew 7:21,24, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter…. everyone who hears my words and acts upon them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
Our previous pastor often said, “You can miss heaven by 12 inches.” The distance between our head and our heart is about a foot. We may sit in church hearing truth and learning more, yet a true disciple daily puts the words of Jesus into practice and continually seeks to be molded into the character of our Heavenly Father.