How Close?

How Close?

How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD. How blessed are those who observe his testimonies, who seek him with all theirheart.

Psalm 119:1-2 NAS

In my years of ministry I have often been asked, although not always in these exact words, “as a Christian, how far from Jesus can I live?” What a strange question. And yet, maybe not, for it betrays a certain understanding of salvation. Salvation is about avoiding deserved punishment and receiving undeserved blessing. So, what is the minimum I have to do to get the blessing – eternal life?

This is like some students I have had. They ask me, “Prof, what is the minimum I have to do to pass this course?” What are they saying? They are saying that the goal is passing the course. “So, how many of your (boring) lectures can I skip? Do I have to read all three of those, long, hard textbooks? What is the minimum number of sources I have to cite in the research paper?”

But suppose passing the course is not the goal? Suppose the goal is to gain a mastery of the material, to become genuinely educated in this subject? Oh, the joy of that student, the one who says, “Prof, I am really excited about this subject. Can you suggest some extra reading I could do? Could I drop in from time to time to ask some questions about your lectures? I want to be sure I understand what you are saying.” I have to restrain myself from breaking some of that student’s ribs with a massive bearhug!

That’s what it is with Jesus. The goal is not eternal life! The goal is to know, really know, in the sense of becoming like, Jesus. Eternal life is a by-product, just like passing the course is a by-product. We were made to be Christ-like (holy and blameless – without a defect, Eph. 1:4). So, the question is not how far from Jesus can I live, but how close to him! It is not how little time can I spend with him, but how much! It is not how little do I have to know about him, but how much can I know. What’s your goal? Heaven or Jesus? “How blessed…are those who seek him with all their heart.”

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