Recently I heard the true story of a Woman in India who was certain she saw a ghost, but it turned out that what she actually encountered was a man who was not of this world. She was gathering sticks along a path near her village when a pale white figure came running down the path toward her. She dropped her sticks and ran back into the village screaming that she had seen a ghost. It turned out that the “ghost” was an American I recently met in Spokane who has a wonderful testimony of how God delivered him from a life of darkness and transferred him into the kingdom of his dear son.
When Jesus prayed for those that had come to believe in him (John 17) he said that “the world has hated them, for they are not of the world anymore than I am of the world.”
Yet most of us living in the Western world who call ourselves followers of Christ seem to spend most of our time and energy in becoming knowledgeable, comfortable and successful in earthly ways. And how many of us are hated by the world?
There’s been much preaching about faith and what you can gain if you have enough of it.
But the writer of Hebrews points to Abraham as an example of faith. He lived in tents because he was looking forward to “the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Speaking of all the heroes of faith mentioned in chapter 11, it’ written that “they admitted that they were strangers and aliens on earth.” What’s more, unlike the faith preachers that tell you how to cash in on the promises of God, these heroes
“..did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.” It goes on to say that because they were looking for a heavenly country, “God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
God does not condemn us or love us any less if we choose to put more toward our earthly
goals than our heavenly ones. As the writer of Hebrews mentions, “If the men and women of faith had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.” But we’ll never know the unshakeable joy and peace of placing our hope in eternal rewards if we sink our stakes down here. Nor will we know the depths of his love. For as John writes, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Reading scriptures like the one’s above and writing blogs like this make me uncomfortable, because I come up seriously lacking. It’s never fun to walk through the trials that shape us and cause us to grow in Father’s love and grace. But going back is not a choice and standing still is impossible. And God has a way of melting hearts that are turned toward him and of revealing a glimpse of his that overcomes the protesting flesh and causes the spirit to say “Yes!”