My heart has been aching lately for people who have turned their backs on God and on the salvation He offers through His Son. There are so many that I know or at least know of who, at one time, were saved through the knowledge of our Savior, who have now returned to their sinful lifestyles. Peter has this to say, in 2 Peter 2:20-21
"For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them."
These stern words from Peter give a warning to all of us who are faithful followers of Christ: should we choose to turn away, after knowing our Savior and His love and sacrifice for us, it will be a worse end than if we'd never even believed.
But what about those who have known, yet still walked away from God? How are we not warning those people? How are we not encouraging those people? Their end is worse than it would have been because they have willingly walked away and spat upon our Savior's sacrifice for them.
I have had the privilege this week of attending a gospel meeting that my husband was preaching. He talked about Calvary. He talked about the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, the excruciating pain of the cross, and the sacrifice Jesus gave simply by leaving heaven to come here for us. It was an intense, emotional journey, but one I am so thankful to have taken. It has made me even more aware of what my Savior has done for me, and what He has done for you. It has made me more aware of the suffering and agony that He faced so that we could live in a heavenly home free from those things. Who, knowing all of these things, could simply turn their backs on them (and on Him) for fleeting, earthly pleasures?
Robert's title for the week was "Lead Me to Calvary", and he walked through the lines to that beloved hymn, focusing especially on the chorus:
"Lest I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget Thine agony, lest I forget Thy love for me, lead me to Calvary."
When people turn their back on Jesus, it must simply be that they have forgotten what He did for them. No trial or circumstance in this life trumps the pain and agony Christ endured for your salvation and for mine. No "love" for a person that isn't rightfully your spouse is greater than the love that held Jesus to the cross. Nothing that I could ever imagine is greater than the sacrifice Jesus made in leaving heaven to come to this sin-ridden world to be beaten, scourged, mocked, spat upon, tortured, and placed on a humiliating cross. There is nothing so great or so powerful that could separate me from the love of God and the love Jesus chose to extend to me by coming here.
So why do we let little things keep us away? Why do we let the harsh words by imperfect Christians keep us away from the cross? Why do we let our own desires for fleshly pleasure keep us away from the cross? Why do we let relationships that are not God-ordained keep us from the foot of the cross? Why do we even put ourselves into the equation when we think about the cross? When we become Christians, we die and are crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). We are irrelevant, and Christ lives in us now. We have died to our old man, and in so doing we have placed Jesus' will into our hearts and His life and His will now takes over. That leaves no room for the things I want to do. Instead, it leaves me to walk by faith, knowing that Jesus Christ will give me the strength to make it through this life below until I can be with Him and My Father forever.
There is nothing on this earth that is worth losing heaven. No riches, no pleasures, no trials, no person. Jesus endured so much on that cross (not to mention all of the time leading up to that pivotal moment). The least, the very LEAST, we can do is to be faithful until death. In no way do we deserve a crown, but Jesus says we will get one if we endure. If we will simply follow His commandments (and they aren't burdensome), we can have a home in heaven. Tell me, friend, what on this temporary earth is worth that trade? What would it take for you to give up that crown? I pray that nothing will ever separate us, and if something has, I pray and I beg that you will rid your life of whatever it is keeping you from God. Through Christ, all things are possible, even the hardest things life can throw at us.
"Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life." - Revelation 2:10