All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
- Hebrews 11:13-16
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
- Ephesians 2:19-22
Language changes, but the words used to express something changes as well. Someone comes up with a new, or a rehashed old, way of expressing something that is hard to grasp.
Maybe that is why the comic book hero, the Tick, used “Spoon!” as the word he said when doing heroic deeds, or blundering as he tried to do heroic deeds. The exclamations of the other superheroes were just that, exclamations. His word was something that you could grasp. You can see, hold, touch a spoon. But it is hard to grasp “infinity,” especially if you are going beyond infinity.
When I first became a Christian over 50 years ago, most people in the Bible Belt had been exposed to church, most grew up in church.
But just because someone grows up in the church, and attends church multiple times each week, it does not mean that they have a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in their heart. They could be lost. I could say that they are as lost as the guy who never darkens the door of the church, but the truth is that they are even more lost. They do the right things; they convince themselves that they are not lost. The guy who never attends church may know that he has no idea that God loves Him. So, when that man finds out that God loves him, he may be closer to salvation than the steady church-goer, because he knows that he is lost.
Yet, today, the phrase “having God in your heart” is often expressed as “having a meaningful relationship with Jesus.” But what about those church goers who do not have a meaningful relationship with Jesus?
We used to say they were straddling the fence. They might have their toes dangling in the direction of God, but they have made no commitment to take that next step – the step of no return. Why no return? Because once you commit to God without reservation, He will enter your heart and He will not leave. God is faithful.
The photo above is of a gate on an electric fence. We had one behind our house on the farm. Since the driveway to the house had been used by the Corps of Engineers to install a flood control reservoir down the hill, behind the house, we were not allowed to deny access to the lake for fishermen. One day, it was raining, and a guy honked his horn repeatedly. I went out to see what was going on. He had grabbed the plastic, spring-loaded gate and he had been shocked, according to his tale of woe – several times. I examined the mechanism and found a slight crack. Avoiding the crack in the plastic, I unlocked the gate for him. As he passed, I said the service would cost him a fish, but he claimed to have not caught a thing that day, except for a shocking experience.
I have told this story before, but it is priceless. About fifteen years before the previous story, we had a thriving turkey farm. Near the highway, a little further south and west of the previous gate was another gate. The turkeys were free range, but to prevent the toms from destroying the eggs, they had to be picked right after being fertilized. Our family garden was right next to this gate and we were in the garden, but I was too young to remember – old enough to hear the often-repeated story. A worker had two full baskets of eggs, worth a fortune if the eggs all produced turkeys. Since he did not have a free hand to unlock the gate, he decided to step over the electric wire. But as he did so, his foot slipped halfway across. While straddling the fence, he sat upon it, and he received a shock in a sensitive area of his body. The baskets and all the eggs went flying.
The old worker on the turkey farm could have set the baskets on the ground, but he was in a hurry. He got a jolt of electricity to tell him that he should not straddle the fence.
It’s a shame that we do not get that type of shock about straddling God’s fence. You know, enough to get our attention. We can attend church every Sunday, but if we do not have God in our heart, it does us no good. As they say today, we need that meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to acknowledge that He is Lord of our lives, God totally in charge, and we are nothing without Him. And with that meaningful relationship, we are no longer foreigners travelling this world, but we are heirs with Christ.
Yet, we then become foreigners. We no longer belong here; we belong with Jesus in Heaven, serving Him on earth until it is our time to go to Him.
So, if you are straddling the fence, you need to take that step toward Jesus and do not look back.
If you feel like a foreigner, looking in toward the shining faces that glow with God’s Joy, you may not know that you are straddling the fence.
There are many ways to say it, but we all need Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.