The Real Thing
"They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the law or the messages that the LORD Almighty had sent them by His Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the LORD Almighty was so angry with them."1
I read how a fellow in France was asked where in Paris he would most like to live. He said in the Eiffel Tower because it was the only place he could be and not have to look at it.
This reminds me of what Jef Olson said about the movie, The Godfather, Part III: "when the Godfather, Don Corleone, is forced to visit the distinguished Cardinal Lamberto to tell him the bad news that a legitimate business deal involving the Vatican Bank has gone bad. The bank is run by the Archbishop and a coalition of Catholic businessmen.
"The Cardinal listens to the Godfather; then he says something quite profound. He picks up a stone and says, 'Look at this stone. It has been lying in the water for a very long time. The water has not penetrated it.' Then he smashes the stone. 'Look,' he says peering at the smashed insides of the stone, 'perfectly dry. The same thing,' the Cardinal continues, 'has happened to men in Europe. They have been surrounded by Christianity for centuries, but Christ does not live in their hearts.'
"This is exactly what happened at the Temple in Jesus's time. There were people there who had been surrounded by the Temple for years, but the God of the Temple had not been allowed to enter their lives nor penetrate their hearts. As St. Paul once put it, They had the form of godliness, but not the real thing.” 2,3
Like the man who would like to live in the Eiffel Tower so as not to see it, there are many who hide from God in church or in some religious ritual. And like so many in Jesus' day, the hardest hearts may not be among the ungodly, but among the religious who have all the outward trappings of the godly, but their hearts, like stones, are hard and cold—and they know not God.
Very interesting too that the Apostle Paul wrote that "there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be … without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."4
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, when it comes to my relationship with You, please help me to be sure that I have the real thing and not just the outward trappings of religiosity. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
Note: For help be sure to read “How to Be Sure You’re a Real Christian” at: http://tinyurl.com/real-christian.
1. Zachariah 7:12 (NLT).
2. 2 Timothy 3:5
3. Rev. Jef Olson, "Reassessment of Ministry" cited on eSermons.com.
4. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV).