Summary: Too many things can take us from our faith. God is Knocking but how long will we still be able to hear him.
There is an old sermon illustration that goes with this morning’s scripture. A pastor decides to visit one of his parishioners on his way into the church one morning. He had wanted to visit for some time but schedule problems and life seemed to keep it from happening. But this morning as he approached, the pastor noticed that the parishioner’s car was in the driveway. He figured he could stop by just for a minute to touch base before she went to work. So, he stopped and he walked to the front door and knocked. There was no answer. He Knocked again. Still nothing. He could hear the TV going. She must be in there! His mind raced, could she be avoiding him? Did he do something to offend her?... No as far as he was concerned, he had done nothing like that. So on the back of his Business Card, He wrote; Revelation 3:20
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
The next morning, as he came into the office, the pastor noticed a note that was left under his office door. Genesis 3:10
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
That is a funny story and I couldn't resist using it this morning.
This week, I have departed from the lectionary text because the Lord laid this scripture on my heart. For the past several years I have been troubled with the decline of the Christian Faith. This decline has been the reality in all Christian denominations in America for as long as I have been in ministry. Fewer and fewer people are attending church. And every year more and more Christian churches are closing their doors forever.
And while the cultural respect for churches and Christian values decreases, sin in our society continues to increase. I am bewildered because our need for Christ’s saving grace has not changed. We have made great advances in technology. People are living longer but human beings have not evolved beyond our sinful nature. If anything, the evil is exposed for all to see today more than ever. Children are assaulting children while others record the crime for publication on social media websites. Individuals are striking out with Guns and bombs at schools and theaters. Terrorist are targeting large civilian populations. Crimes like robbery, assault, and even murder are so common that they are barely newsworthy. But when the Government throws a tantrum, shuts down and a clock in a national museum is not wound, well that’s BIG NEWS!
In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
This fundamental truth of the Gospel has not changed. No technology will replace it. Now more than ever, people need the Lord. The only way of salvation is for each of us to recognize our sin, Confess that we personally are sinners, repent from that sin and ask Jesus Christ into our hearts. So that God’s Holy Spirit can begin to work on our lives and replace our sinful natures with His Holy Spirit. But that is not the end of the Journey. It is only the beginning. If we have confessed our sins, and we have accepted Jesus into our hearts, then it will show in our lives.
We enter into a partnership with Jesus. Together, and yes I used the word TOGETHER, the Holy Spirit begins to change us from the inside out. And during this process, the Light of Christ begins to shine in our lives. But it is a joint effort. We still live on the same planet. Belief in Christ does not solve our every day problem or addictions without work on our part. The Holy Spirit begins to guide, but every day the choice to follow or not is up to us. Especially, in the beginning, our old natures begin to pull on our lives again. And if we choose, to ignore God’s Spirit within us, we can fall right back into our old sinful ways. Like all strong relationships in our lives, our Relationship with Christ will fade away if we choose to ignore it. I fear this is the case for many people who call themselves “Christians”. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
If we choose to ignore the knock at the door, eventually we will no longer hear it. We can fool ourselves into thinking that our, “Belief in God” is a substitute for real faith when in fact it is not even close. Satan and every demon in hell believe is God. Faith is not an emotion, it is not a possession. It is a living breathing dynamic relationship with God. It does not exist on hold. It does not have a shelf life of forever. Faith that is not living is not faith at all. Paul said faith without works (action) is dead. And I fear that many people who settle for “Belief in God” will find themselves lost.