Henry Drummond said: “Our lifetimes are the cradle to eternity.” I always find comfort in that thought. I long to truly please God with my life, yet find the more progress I make I discover the further I have to go. It is because of God’s great mercy and grace that He makes the victorious Christian life seem possible. It’s only after we truly move towards Him in intimate, vital connection that our eyes are opened to an acceptable reality. All our spiritual progress is good, but there is so much more to make. It’s not a bait-and-switch game at all. There is a glorious freedom that comes with this illumination. I believe that is what gave Henry Drummond the courage to make that statement. The joy is the journey here on earth; the destination will only be reached in heaven.
I have the privilege of being invited into the spiritual progress of people God sends to me. I learn so much more from them than they do from me. It’s easy to point out the stumbling blocks that keep a person away from God—their anger, pride, lust, and the list goes on. The stumbling blocks of religion are a little less obvious and can be subtle manifestations of God’s truth mixed with Satan’s ploys. If we are not mindful, we can live a lot of our Christian life feeling we are close to God, yet further away than an outright sinner.
There’s the Pharisee within the religious mind (Matthew 23) that tends to add extra restrictions to God’s word just to make it stick. This kind of thinking makes you feel that you are getting better when actually you don’t believe that God’s ways are best. God has never been about restrictions. He created this world for us to bring glory to Him through our enjoyment of what He made. When we add to God’s ways, we don’t believe God is enough.
Some have the same spiritual sickness as the Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:16) who came to Jesus just for another pat on his back about what a blessed and great spiritual man he was. Jesus didn’t give him the accolades he was seeking. Rather Jesus told him to sell all he owned and give it to the poor. We can get confident in the successes of the Christian life and forget that the true success is in doing whatever, whenever Jesus tells us something. True spirituality is losing everything for the purpose of loving God.
Another religious stumbling block is the one Martha (Luke 10:40) and the disciples and Pharisees encountered too often—telling God what to do. When you experience a close relationship with God and see Him working for you, you might get the wrong impression that He has left you in charge of the world. You think you know what is best for God, the world and you; and you expect Jesus to agree with your opinion.
The Scribe (Mark 12:34) was told he was close to the kingdom. Though he meant to use God’s word to be wiser than God, he could not deny that Jesus—the WORD—opened a deeper level of understanding that he could not deny.
All religious people who want to continue to grow during their lifetimes should model their lives after the thief on the cross (Luke 23:40-43). We would do well to look at Jesus, see our sin and cry for mercy for our whole lifetimes.