May 15, 2007

Holding On

It was just a television show, fiction, but fiction that happens. A man was abducting little boys. If they didn’t fight back, he kept them until they were too old, twelve or so, then abducted another young one. Sickening. If the child did fight back, he killed him and buried him in the woods.

What makes a person like that tick? I can’t imagine. How long was he like that? I don’t know. One thing for certain, he was beyond hope and he knew it. When the authorities closed in and he knew he was going to be captured, he immediately took his own life.

Most shows like that don’t stick in my memory beyond the next day, but this one did. I’ve been thinking about people who are beyond hope, and that particular plot supplied a visual of a sad reality in the spiritual realm.

That evening, a verse in Luke 22 popped out as part of this reality. The chief priests and scribes, Jesus’ biggest critics, arrested Him and took Him before their council. They said, “If You are the Christ, tell us.” “But Jesus said to them, ‘If I tell you, you will by no means believe.’”

I’ve been praying that Jesus would tell some people who He is. I know that no one can believe in Him or understand who He is unless He reveals Himself to them, so I’ve prayed that He would simply tell them. In my mind, and by my experience, once His true identity is known, believing and salvation follows.

But His response shocks me, even though I know it is true. Some people, no matter how much they know about Jesus, will still refuse Him. The Jewish leaders of His day had an attitude of, “We will not let this man rule over us.” It didn’t matter that He’d clearly demonstrated Himself to be God in human flesh, the same God that they professed to serve. They were running their own religion and for them, it didn’t matter what Jesus revealed or what God wanted.

This morning another passage describes the same attitude. It is a warning from Hebrews 6 and says, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

God could reveal it all. He could enlighten the darkest mind so that it knows about the gift of eternal life. A person can share in the revelations given by the Holy Spirit, understand the Word of God, even realize that once their sins are forgiven, they will participate in a future glory. Yet it is possible for a person to go right to the edge of the kingdom, stick their foot in the door, then decide that they don’t want it.

This verse describes people who are so close they can taste it. They have even repented of their sins, but without the new life of Christ that God gives to those who believe, they have no power to stick with it. They fall away, not just because they didn’t get both feet and their hearts inside the door, but because the only thing that can keep anyone from falling away is the power of God. For some reason, these ‘apostates’ don’t have it.

The verse in Luke says Jesus will not reveal Himself to those who won’t believe. I’m thinking this Hebrew passage says He will not give genuine faith to those who will mop the floor with it. God knows the human heart.

At the same time, I wonder how this reconciles with the reality that without genuine faith, sin will ensure that we cannot do anything but mock and reject the Son of God. Why does God give some that faith, but others not?

Someday I might understand everything about His incredible gift of salvation and why some miss out, even knowing all they can know about the gift. It makes no sense to me that a person would refuse it and toss it away.

Right now, I’m just glad that when He put the gift in my hands, He also gave me, and keeps on giving me, whatever I need to hang on to it.


Accidental Poet said...

A-men! I was thinking just yesterday about my regrettable lack of follow-through on so many things - this post made me realize that at least Christianity has been something I've followed through on. Which brings the focus away from "Wow I'm a loser" to "Lean on Jesus."

Thanks Elsie.

LC said...

Thank you.

There are days when I think "what is the point of tossing my thots out at the world?" then along comes you!

Accidental Poet said...

Commenters or not, LC, it's about obedience. You wouldn't be doing it if you didn't think that, would you?

LC said...

Yea, you are right. But the comments confirm that God isn't wasting my time (yikes) and my delight in them proves that my faith is not always a stride through the park but somedays a stumbling upsidedown in a weed patch!

Accidental Poet said...

Fair enough :)