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We were between ministry engagements, and we took a short timeout in a picturesque mountain community in the Southeast. It's the oldest town in the area and its buildings make you feel like you've stepped back into the 1890s. It's got rambling Victorian mansions, soaring spires, it's got this classic railroad station. We stopped to ask a local man directions, and somewhere in the middle of his answer he made this observation about his town, "You know, this place is sort of like a movie set. There really isn't much here, but it sure does look pretty."
Now, sadly, there are a lot of lives that are like that man's description of his town. There really isn't much there, but they sure do look pretty; especially all dressed up for church, turning on the charm, making a great impression, or saying and doing all the right Christian things. But, as God reminds us in 1 Samuel 16:7, "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." And there's many an empty heart hiding behind an impressive exterior.
In Revelation 3, beginning with verse 15, our word for today from the Word of God, there's a disturbing example of the deadly difference there can be between what people see and what God sees. To the outside observer, the church at Laodicea was rich, successful, and experiencing God's blessing. But Jesus said to them, "I know your deeds, that you are neither hot or cold...because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of My mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.'" There's the image they had. "But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." There's the reality. Like a movie set. There really isn't much there, but it sure looks pretty.
It's easy to make the mistake of thinking that because you've impressed other people that Jesus is impressed. Not necessarily. It takes a lot of personal courage and honesty to look in the mirror and say, "You know, I'm not what everyone thinks I am. I'm pretty empty behind this image I portray." That's painful, but it's the beginning of reality, and it's an open door for Jesus to come behind the set and start to build a deep, real, fulfilling relationship with Him. It's wonderfully liberating to let Jesus show you what He sees when He looks at you and to let Him start building a you that only He can build.
It could be that behind all your Christianity, you really don't have a relationship with Christ. You know He died to pay for your sins, you agree with Jesus, but somehow you've missed the step of actually committing your life to Him, of turning from running your own life to Him running your life. There's never been that time when you actually gave you to Jesus. And there's no way into heaven without doing that, no matter how spiritually impressive you look.
Maybe this is the day for you to actually move from just believing about Jesus to belonging to Jesus, from a religion that's all about Him, to a relationship with Him. Then tell Him right where you are today, "Jesus, I'm not running things any more. I am Yours. You died for my sins and You are my only hope." At that moment, He will come into your life, and your life will never be the same. And you will be anchored to an unloseable love, and you'll know finally that what has only been on the outside is now in my heart for real and to stay.
I'd love to help you with that commitment. And many people have found that help by going to our website and finding there information that will walk you through making sure you belong to Jesus Christ. The website is YoursForLife.net.
I'll tell you, there's something very liberating, even life saving, when you finally face reality. And it's time to face the reality that behind all the Christianity, maybe Jesus isn't there. Well, today you can finally have the real thing.
Distributed by Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.
Learn three secrets to loving what you do from Ron Hutchcraft's message, "How to Love Your Job No Matter What." This complimentary CD provides new perspective on how your boss, your pay, and your hard work can help you love your job.