No Safe Distance
By Mark+ Walz
I love the Bible. Primarily because there are so many sections and stories that are encouraging, inspiring, or comforting. There is great truth, great wisdom, and great peace to be found all through out it. However, there are some passages of the Bible that are haunting. And they cannot be avoided. Even Jesus, who is the place most people turn to in order to find comfort, speaks at times words that are challenging and scary. Consider this passage in the gospel of Luke when someone asked him how to be saved:
“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’”
Jesus seems to say that there will come a time when the opportunity to be saved has passed. And once it has passed, on what basis do we appeal to him?
Think on this for a moment; Jesus claims that for those who appeal, they will do so with words like these, “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.”
What sort of relationship or association does this point to? I mean, as a basis for coming into someone’s house, what is their argument? That they heard him speak somewhere once? ‘May I come in, this late at night, because I heard you speak one day at an event?’ Or, ‘there was this place you were eating at one night, and I was eating there too!’ Do you see the ridiculousness yet of their request? They have no relationship with the Teacher. From the beginning, they kept him at a safe distance. Yet they presume they could come into his home, after hours, even though they never got close enough to him to exchange even a couple of words.
No, these people on the outside of God’s house are there because they never dared get too close to Jesus. They kept him at a distance — in their minds, a safe distance. For whatever reason, they were content to watch and observe, but never engage.
I know what this is like. I know what it is like to sit in the back of a gathering of people to get the lay of the land. And I know what it is like to leave never really engaging. And it is always true that I did not care enough or was convinced enough to be too involved. I was content to see it, judge it, and then finally dismiss it.
Well, Jesus makes it clear that if this is my attitude towards him and his kingdom, when the time to be saved has passed, I will not have any basis for an appeal. If I am content, for example, to see God’s kingdom at work, judge it, and then finally dismiss it, then I will not be allowed to be in. And personally, if I have found a way to be close to Jesus but not close enough to dare a relationship, then what exactly am I doing? Whatever it is, it is not enough for Jesus to ‘know’ me. And that is not a safe distance at all.