And he was good. In fact, at least two items I never completely understood, maybe more, he explained in such a way I have now a new understanding.
And I'm not going to tell you about ANY of them today.
You see, the thing on my heart today has to do with a concept I already grasped, and a story he told to illustrate it. Back in his teenage days, the story went, he played on a church softball team. This league allowed each team to have three non-members on the squad, and theirs was a guy named "Paul." He was "one of the finest men" he'd ever known; he was a team leader, generous to a fault, and was the one to calm down situations in the heat of battle. He was, to the proto-pastor's eyes, "A better Christian than the actual Christians on the team."
Two problems with the scenario. One, he was not a Christian. Two, he saw the same disconnect between profession and action that the proto-pastor did.
At the last game of his career, the 18-year-old future pastor spoke to him about Christ, and "Paul" listened intently. And at the end, he expressed gratitude to his young friend, because no one else on the team had so much as whispered a word to him on the subject. But, seeing the disconnect between what a Christian SHOULD be and what he saw on the other players on the team, he felt he was well enough off already. How the speaker knew, I don't know, but he said "Paul" died without Christ.
Which brings me to "Paul's" problem. You see, he was a nice guy, lived a moral life- probably better than any of us by purely moral standards. I have run into many just like "Paul", who have said, "Why do I need to be a Christian on top of all the good things I do? I know I'm a good person, and I'm not a hypocrite about it, either". But there is a flaw in that logic.
You see, Christianity is not about being like the other Christians. If you set your judgement on what you see in men, you will see exactly what he did. People who fail. That don't love the way they should, don't turn the other cheek as they should, that don't live the message as they should.
And if you listen or watch me, you'll be no better off.
HOWever, the POINT of being a Christian is to be like CHRIST, not as you watch other men do it, but as He leads you, individually. And you cannot learn that from men, you have to learn it from Christ, individually. Others can help you, but the bottom line is between you and Him. And the bottom line for the "Pauls" out there is, you have to establish that one on one when the Spirit calls you. And the bottom line for the Christian is, you have to act in such a way so that the Christ in you supersedes the "you" in you. You can say to yourself, for example, it's okay to let that steam off at the softball field, it's just a game, right? But you have to look around and see WHO might be watching. A dozen other people who were going to heaven thought they were safe in how they acted, and one fellow went to hell because of it.
That statement bears repeating: A dozen other people who were going to heaven thought they were safe in how they acted, and one fellow went to hell because of it.
And this one bears repeating: And if you listen or watch me, you'll be no better off.
Because I am NOT Christ. Paul, I am not, nor will I ever be Christ. If you watch me to see how perfect I am, you will think me a hypocrite. Because I cannot measure up to the standard that Christ set. And the best person I can be can't either. Paul, you need to find Jesus yourself, one on one. I can show you how to get there, but I can never be Him. If Jesus were only man or myth, then risking your eternity based on watching me would probably not hurt anything. But if Jesus is who He claimed, your odds just got a LOT worse.
Perhaps you should stop just watching... perhaps you should do a little digging for the truth.