WHY DO PEOPLE AVOID LIFE’S MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION?

When questions arise about God – people tend to come up with shallow and evasive statements. A classic one is:

“It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere”

Really? They would never dream of applying that motto to any other area of life. G.K.Chesterton once said;

“When men cease to believe in God, they do not believe in nothing, they believe in anything”.

Sincerity fits today’s tolerant society and the only virtue that has escaped the corroding cynicism of today’s moral decline, but it also gives the false hope that everyone automatically goes to heaven. Again, it appeals because in one stroke it removes any obligation and risk of being challenged by what the Bible has to offer. Those who use such evasive statements are content not to think about the really important matters of life because it will mean a radical lifestyle change. The gospel is a call to self-denial, not a call for self-fulfillment (Luke 9:23-26). It takes courage to face opposition and the offence of the cross to examine the abundant evidence available, whether there is a God or not; if Jesus rose from the dead or not; if He will accept us or not. To hide our heads in the sand by using shallow opinions and refusing a critical examination of scripture is avoiding life’s most important question, a question that leads from darkness to life eternal to those who remain faithful. God has left it to individuals to decide, but they must be warned of the consequences of unbelief. In Matt 7:24-27 Jesus records the contrast between the man who built his house upon the rock and the one who built his house upon the sand, the storms beat upon both houses but only the house upon the rock stood firm. If you have convinced yourself you only need to be sincere; is as dangerous as building your life upon the instability of sand, materialism and money, according to Paul in 1 Timothy 6:17

“Money is so unstable, (Confirmed by Covid 19) so put your hope in God”.

Sincere assumptions may sound good but offer no foundation for life. Whether or not you take the Bible as the final authority from God, you must at least concede that God has revealed Himself through the most significant book in the world, which has changed more lives for good than anything else, remains the world’s best  seller so surely it must deserve a hearing, especially the Bible’s claim that Jesus is the way the truth and the life, and all Scripture has been inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Human wisdom is temporary, divine wisdom is permanent. Paul said,

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

No one could be more sincere than the religious Pharisees who thought they had every detail of God’s Law mastered, but Jesus said,

“Listen to them but do not do what they do, for they don’t practice what they preach.” (Matt 23:3).

Christians are to remain faithful to the certainty of the risen Christ. It’s easy to be sincere, but so many good people can be badly misled by it. The most important question you will ever face in life is; will you surrender to the living Christ or reject the gospel as utterly foolish?

Sincere people who don’t face life’s most important question are the foolish ones who will face God’s judgement because of unbelief. 

Author: John Shepherd, Napier church of Christ.

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

THE MASTER AT WORK

Do you know who Jesus really is? I had no idea, living on lighthouses where Sunday schools didn’t exist and parents who rarely opened a Bible. My mother at least taught me to pray to a gentle Jesus meek and mild. Now a City lad, I saw a large picture of a man on a cross in some classroom. I imagined it was Jesus, so I asked a lady, “when did this happen?” “Two thousand years ago” she said. I immediately responded in ignorance, “Why don’t they forget about him then?” I think the poor lady was too shocked to reply. Years later I accepted a six-week Bible study. On lesson one, my teacher nearly fell off his chair when I asked, “Why six weeks of study? I just want to know what to do to become a Christian” he recovered and said, “read Acts 2:38”. My simplistic approach was born from having no previous religion to un-learn or cloud my thinking. It was simply an open Bible about Jesus who died to save me making me ashamed of once saying why don’t they forget Him, to become amazed why more people don’t remember Jesus and follow Him. Most people only see what they want to see, a meek and mild Jesus while closing their ears to His lessons on righteousness justice and judgement. They never get a full 360-degree summary of the Savior. I discovered that Jesus Christ changes what you think about everything else – how you view God, the world, yourself, every decision you make, how you prioritize values, know right from wrong, determine your unique place in the universe, and how you act. Jesus turned my world right
side up because I wanted to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). The gospel of John gives us plenty of glimpses of the Master at work, for example John 5:1-9 is a story about a man who had been disabled for 38 years, a classic case of neglect or self-pity. Plenty of time to dream up excuses and see the world as enemy number one. John said in verse 3 “a great number of disabled people used to lie there”. It must have been some sight, a scrap heap of broken
people beside the Pool of Bethesda. But look who was there, Jesus of Nazareth right there where people were hurting and He was available even to a practicing pity party parasite. Who wants to go to such a one and receive an ear full of his problems, especially with a history like his, and risk another draining dependent? – We usually don’t, but Jesus does – that’s who! Jesus didn’t avoid the down and out but then he didn’t encourage undue dependence on others either. He said, “Do you want to get well?” (v 6) implying, you have a good thing going here, enough food a day and plenty of attention, if I heal you, it’s the employment office you know. Jesus healed him. Jesus’ challenge is intended for us all, play with self-pity and you will dig your own pit, each shovel full further away from God. For believers the first step is to bury the old self in baptism. Paul said in Romans 6:6 “For we know that the old self was crucified with Jesus so the body of sin might be done away with.” We cannot feel sorry for ourselves if there is no “self” to feel sorry for. Who else teaches and heals like Jesus and conquered death to offer believers eternal life? There is so much more to Jesus than we often hear from those who don’t know Him. See for yourself the Master at work and follow Him, you will be a new person – just like Jesus.

Author: John Shepherd