A Rural Community Church . . . with a World Wide Ministry
James was a man who seemed to have everything in control. He was a very successful businessman who did very well. He held public office as well in his community and he was a Christian man. He attended church every Sunday with his family and was very active in his church. He was well liked by all people, and was a role model to many people.
Jon was a man who spent most of his life in jail. All the way through his life he has been in trouble with the law. You mention his name to any police officer and they knew whom you were talking about. His last crime was murder. He murdered his wife and in-laws. He was sentenced to death and was to be executed. In the last few months of his life he changed. He changed his attitude about life and turned his faith to God. He was baptized and began studying the bible with other inmates. He even taught a bible study class before being executed.
Which one of these men do you think will enter the kingdom of God? Can we see our selves as either of these men? We most likely would see ourselves as James, the righteous one. How would you feel if Jesus were to come and visit the man who was in jail and not the other? We would probably be confused and ask why?
One of the hardest things a person can do is forgive someone for doing them wrong. The other hardest if not the hardest is to admit that you were wrong! It is so much easier to point the finger at someone else than to admit that we are wrong. Jesus speaks about both the Jamesí and Jonís of this world, whom he came to save.
Yet we have to ask, ďIs God fair to those who seek to enter the Kingdom of God?" At times we wonder. On one hand we are told Ė YES, because God does not cheat people out of what was promised! Yet on the other hand we feel NO! God is not fair! I have worked hard and done everything that God has asked of me, I have followed the commandments and even loved my neighbor as myself!
But look at Jon, he did something awful. HE MURDERED! But who are we to judge! IN GOD'S GENEROSITY, THE KINGDOM IS GIVEN TO WHOMEVER GOD WILLS! At times we cannot understand God's astounding mercy at all! Everyone is called to work in the vineyard, even those who do not work long, God gives the same reward.
ďFor God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.Ē (John 3:16-17 NRSV)
God gave His only Son, for us! No strings attached! FREE! Our God is an awesome God! We should be jumping up and down for joy, filling all the churches and shouting from the highest mountaintops what God has done for us. Yet, we live in a world, community, family and church, full of mortals, all thinking like mortals. We fall short of Godís expectations. We fall short of one anotherís expectations. We not only disappoint one another, but God as well. I know that I myself will always fall short of someoneís expectations, I will disappoint them, make them mad or upset. I apologize for that, but I know I will do it again, why, because I am a mortal, a sinner. Because of my humanness, because I am a sinner and always Donít live up to Godís expectations, I will fall short.