Summary: To persuade those who are delaying to embrace Christ as Savior.
HOW CLOSE IS CLOSE ENOUGH?
Sermon Objective: To persuade those who are delaying to embrace Christ as Savior.
Have you ever gotten close?
• Maybe you were in need of a certain score on a test and you came soooo close but missed it by a few points. Even though you were close it changed everything.
• Maybe it was a huge fish you were trying to get in the net; you saw it as thrashed in the water and you wanted so bad to reel it in but at the last minute it got off … you were left with nothing but an empty hook.
• Maybe it was a promotion you were hoping for. You did everything you could to secure it but, in the end, it went to someone else.
• Maybe it was a competition you were involved in. This win would put you in the playoffs or even the championship and yet, in the end, you were denied.
In Tom Hanks’ movie “The Terminal” Hanks plays Viktor Navorski a man from a fictional country called Krakozhia. While Hanks is flying from his home country to the U.S., there is a coup in Krakozhia and the government is overthrown. The U.S. refuses to acknowledge the new government and, as a result, Hanks can neither enter American soil (even though he is at JFK airport) nor return “home” because he no longer has a valid passport. Hanks can look out the windows of the airport and see New York City. When doors open he can hear sounds of car horns, but, as close as he is, he cannot enter. He is stuck in the terminal … so close to his destination but, yet, so far away.
Almost everyone has experienced the disappointment of "coming close." In most of life’s anecdotes we get over it, learn from it, and move on; but sometimes coming close is the difference in life and death.
• People have frozen to death right outside of shelter …hypothermia got the best of them.
• People have died of smoke inhalation while trying to make it to the window … some have been found with their fingers on the ledge.
My objective is not to be morbid it’s just to remind us that that sometimes “close” has no consolation prize.
The Gospel story today illustrates the seriousness of coming close … it illustrates the chasm that exists between being a citizen of the Kingdom and being on the outside looking in. As we will see, there is no consolation prize.
32"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
34When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
We have looked at the beginning of this story all summer. We discovered the power for good that loving God and loving our neighbor can have. We discovered God’s core values and a new paradigm for living. But the story ends on a sour note … it ends not with a neatly packaged “happy ending” (like Hanks movie “The Terminal”) but with a fellow earth traveler who … GETS CLOSE BUT NOT IN.
Sometimes “close” is good enough … sometimes you might as well be a million miles away.
Jesus said, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." I am glad that it was Jesus who said these words rather than some disciple or someone else. Had it been someone else we would probably have objected strongly to them. In fact, in chapter 10, the disciples do try and differentiate. They do try and classify some as “in” and others as “out.” The difference is that the disciples were trying to keep people out … Jesus was trying to persuade anyone and everyone to come in.
There is a welcome sign hanging at the entrance to the Kingdom … but, as Jesus knows, one must still choose to enter.
Like you, I have asked myself some hard questions after reading Jesus’ words. Questions like:
WHAT CLASSIFIED THIS GUY AS “NEAR” THE KINGDOM BUT NOT YET IN THE KINGDOM?
There are some admirable qualities about the scribe that put him close … even at the door. In fact, some of these qualities are so admirable that we would look at someone who possesses them and classify that person as a citizen of the kingdom and not merely near the kingdom.