This weekend Pastor Tommy Moseley shared a message that implored us as Christians to make the move of drawing near to God. James 4:8 promises that when you draw near to God He will draw near to you.
There are hindrances that may deter us in our plan to draw near to God. Pastor Tommy clearly outlined the problems many of us struggle with when it comes to a close and intimate relationship with the Lord. However, the end result is that these problems can be overcome, and that there is hope.
Problems with Jesus' Teachings
Jesus led a radical life. He is our ultimate example of how we as Christians should live. However, His example and instruction may not always be something that we want to do.
Luke 6:27-31 states, but I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
Loving our enemies is not something we necessarily embrace, simply because it is difficult to do. It is hard to forgive those who hurt us. Pastor Tommy shared a story about having his motorcycle stolen when he was eighteen years old. He wanted nothing more than to find out who the person was, and get back at them.
It is a natural reaction for all of us as human beings to feel this way because we are sinful creatures. But Jesus challenges us to love and forgive, no matter who the person is, and no matter what the circumstances are.
The Road is Narrow
Matthew 7:13-14 states enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Jesus doesn't promise that the Christian life is easy. He doesn't promise that in the end everyone will go to heaven and all will be good and well, but rather that the path is narrow and difficult.
It is hard to welcome a life of difficulty, but He also promises that we won't walk this path alone. Matthew 28:20 reminds us of that promise. I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Problems with our Understanding
If all Christians acted like Jesus, it is fair to say that more people would desire to be Christians as well. Instead we tend to hear non-Christians refer to Christians as hypocrites, because they say one thing and do another.
We have a propensity to get into a mindset where we think we're okay, or even that we are better than others. However, we are sadly mistaken if we accept such a lifestyle.
In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus instructs us not to fall into such a lifestyle. Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
In spite of what Jesus teaches us to do through His word we sometimes think that we can go on sinning and God will just let things slide.
Matthew 7:21-23 says, not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"
For many of us as children when we misbehaved or disobeyed what our parents instructed us to do there would be repercussions for our actions. In the same as Christians we cannot get by continually and deliberately living in sinfulness.
Hope for the Hopeless
Now it is easy to become discouraged at this point, if our understanding has been skewed and we have gone astray from what Jesus teaches us in Scripture. However, we can hold onto hope because Scripture teaches us that Jesus came for the sinners.
Matthew 9:10-13 states, now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.
More than anything else Jesus wants our hearts. We can't just decide to live in forgiveness and love, because an attempt to do so on our own will only set us up for failure at one point or another.
If there is anything to remember, to hold onto, and rest in, it is the fact that God will do for each of us what we cannot do for ourselves. In Matthew 19:26 it says, Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Pastor Tommy shared many of the sins and struggles he was able to overcome because of what God did in his life. Whether it is a specific sin you struggle with, or maybe the challenges of the Christian life seem to be too much, remember that God will do for you, what you cannot do for yourself.
We need to make the move and draw near to Him, knowing He will draw near to us and make the impossible, possible.