“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.’ John 12:47 (NIV)
A lot of emphasis is placed upon the judgment of the world. Many denominations have sprung up out of our fear of judgment. People flock to this church or that to see what can be done to avoid punishment for forgetting God and not listening to Him. The normal course of events is that we follow along dutifully the practices taught by our chosen religion. Is this what Jesus taught us to do? Is this what God wants of us?
Church is essential and good. It is the breeding ground of faith. It is the stronghold for hope. It can enhance our spiritual walk with the Lord. It can guide us and feed us. It can help us grow as Christians. But being a Christian should mean more than a declaration. Being a follower of Christ should be more than a social club or party we form a part of. It should be an awareness of and a bonding of our souls to the One Who saves us. It is not something settled once and for all even if we have made a great turning at a particular point in time. It is a continual gaze and a relationship shared between two intelligent beings. It must be reciprocal.
Judgment is coming. But it is not the reason we come to seek the Lord. We come because we realize that we are walking out of adjustment with the God Who formed us. We come to Jesus because He is become our Way back into favor with our Heavenly Father. Not one single part of this process should be done or can be done alone or without the Presence of the Son. At least this is what the Bible teaches.
But how many times do we put more faith in the fact that we attend this church or that one? How often do we find ourselves placing our standing with God in how we have deciphered the Scriptures? Should we rather put our hope in how close we stand to the One Who came to restore us? Should we instead place our trust in Who we are coming to know? Will our acceptance into Heaven depend upon our greater ability to unravel prophecy or interpret the Bible? Or will we be ushered in depending upon the strength of relationship and closeness we have had with the One Who came to lead us Home? Is He asking us now to get so close to Him now, that all else is just a reaction to His Presence here beside us?
We can make our religion a question of judgment. We can make our faith into something of theory or preference. We can try to turn belief in God to a statement or an association with a particular group of believers. Or we could move beyond all that. We could seek to find a WAY right into the Presence of God. Do we know the One we can we turn to that will make that possible? Are we hearing Him now? Are we the ones who will be judged or the ones who will be saved?
Dear Jesus, we come to You. Let nothing stand in our way. But when we say come to You, we want it to mean more than a mental conviction. We want it to be more than an association to an earthly organization. We want to press forward into Your very Presence. We want to walk with You today! We want to be warmed by having You beside us! We want that Presence to be felt. Direct us into that kind of walk. Take us by the hand and lead us into a knowledge and a relationship with You. Let us get so close to You that we may one day walk right past the judgment and through the gates of Heaven. Let us follow You close, right to the feet of God!