In one of old his “Peanuts” cartoons, Charles Schultz has Linus bringing manager Charlie Brown a statistical report on the baseball team. “In twelve games,” he said, “we almost scored a run and in nine games the other team almost didn’t score before the first out. In right field, Lucy almost caught three balls and once almost made the right play.” Then Linus concluded in the cartoon’s last frame with this classic statement: “We led the league in ‘almosts.’”
No doubt about it – Linus is prime preacher material. How many times have you heard a pastor say, “We almost met our offering goal?” Or, “We almost reached our attendance goal.” How many people have you known who almost came to church, who almost decided to follow Christ, or who almost trusted their situation to God? It happens – er, almost every weekend.
Come to think of it, we almost do so many things, we could start a whole new church – the First Church of Hand Grenades and Horseshoes.
Almost all the membership would be composed of people who almost decide to show up, almost decide to serve, and almost give to support its work.
The church would almost complete a belief statement that says that Jesus almost came from heaven, almost gave His life, and almost rose from the dead.
It would teach that God is almost faithful, that Jesus is almost ready to return to earth, and that God almost answers prayer and almost keeps his promises.
Adults in the church would almost be faithful to their marriages; the children would almost be obedient and almost cared for.
The church’s bills would almost be paid, prospects almost visited, and the services would conclude promptly at almost 12:00, of course.
When members die, they would almost go to heaven, which means, of course, they’d wind up in West Virginia.
Those who do go to hell would at least have the benefit of hearing Jesus say, “Congratulations! You almost made it.”
Only one problem with an “almost” religion: it offers no hope. After all, hope is built on certainties. And the Bible is quite clear…
Almost righteous is totally sinful.
Almost saved is totally lost.
Almost faithful remains unfaithful.
And almost true is completely false.
But the beauty of our hope is that Jesus certainly slipped all the way into Bethlehem that night.
He certainly gave all His life for us.
He certainly rose all the way from the dead.
He certainly gives complete forgiveness to all who trust in him.
And He certainly is coming again – all the way – for His own.
The only remaining uncertainties belong to us. Will we be content to offer to God lame excuses and congratulate ourselves because of all the things we almost did? Or will our lives be built on “always,” “all the way,” and “altogether?”
You want to offer real hope to the world? Then show the world that the hope of God has made you an altogether different person, and that you’re going all the way with Him.
If you want to blow up a building or win a game of horse shoes, almost may be good enough. But in the issues of eternity, there must be something more.
Elsewhere on LifeVesting