"...if we be honest with ourselves,
we shall be honest with each other." ~ George MacDonald
"...if we be honest with ourselves,
we shall be honest with each other." ~ George MacDonald

I look forward to the day when God has finished making me. I look forward to the day when I’m like Christ. When I am that pure in heart, even what you or I would regard as relatively minor sin will disgust me. When I'm as honest, brave, and as kind as Jesus, I will not be able to bring myself to do an inconsiderate or selfish thing, no matter how small. But that day is a long way away. (One day I will be like the superman spoken about in this sermon. Becoming Superman.)

“O God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

I do not deserve God’s love. He does not approve of many of the things I think, say, or do, but he loves me anyway. God loves us not because we are loveable, but because he is perfectly loving.

We belong to God. He made us, and he loves us. From God we came, and to God we will return. But is knowing that enough?

Knowing something about God is not the same as knowing him. The more we focus on how much purer in heart Jesus is than we are, the more we think about and meditate on how differently we would behave if we were like him, the more we will be humbled by just how much greater he is than we are. This will help us to want to be like him. It will help us to trust and obey him. And if we humbly trust and obey him we will really come to know him. But even then, how exactly can anyone truly know God? The following explains what I am unable to put into words.

Saving Knowledge (See also the book The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware)

Choosing to follow Christ is not easy, but the alternative has problems of its own.

We always have a choice before us; we can choose the path that leads to hope, or we can choose the path that leads to despair. The person who has no hope, does not regard life as worth living. So can we do something to increase the hope we feel?

“...suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Rom 5:3b, 4)

Should we therefore choose to suffer? Only if we have a choice between suffering while doing what is right, and not suffering and doing what is wrong. 

Following Jesus is the hard narrow way—the way of self-denial—but it is the way that fills a person with a hope that cannot be destroyed. However, I do not regard following Jesus as self denial; if I did, I wouldn’t get far. Will an athlete train hard for many months on end, if every time he trains he thinks about all the fun things he could be doing with his friends? If every time he eats healthy food and gets to bed early he thinks about how he could be eating junk food and partying it won’t be long before he gives up. But if instead he thinks about what he is gaining and keeps before his mind his goal, he will be self-disciplined; he will be able to put his heart and soul into his training. He will not view such hard work as giving something up; he will view it is as the path to victory.

If being like God, and near God is what we most desire, we will trust him by setting out to do his will. If we are not trusting and obeying Jesus we are atheists—we are living as if God does not exist. (Many people who call themselves Christians are atheists. They spend much of their time trying to convince themselves and others that they believe in Jesus (see Jer 17:9). But their personal choices betray them. Sooner or later they reap the despair that comes with disbelief.)

“You can't live on amusement. It is the froth on water - an inch deep and then the mud.” ~ George MacDonald

We must die to live.

Christians would do well to ask themselves the following questions. What do I want more than anything else? Do I want God? Or do I just want something God can give? In other words, am I just using God to try and get something I want? Or am I trying to come near him? 

Trusting and obeying Jesus is the only right kind of self-service. The more I trust and obey Jesus the closer I come to God. And the closer I come to God, the more my heart is filled with hope. (And I have also noticed that hope increases the strength of my will.)

Jesus said that if we continue to obey him, we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. Do not choose the path that leads to nowhere.

“Get up, and do something the Master tells you; so make yourself his disciple at once.” ~ George MacDonald

"We must do the thing we must
     Before the thing we may;
We are unfit for any trust
     Till we can and do obey." (from the poem Willie's Question by George MacDonald)

My goal in life is to be intimate with God. God is all I need. Trusting and obeying Jesus leads to intimacy with God, and with people. (Not all people, but some. The more trustworthy I become, the more I will be trusted.) The more I trust God, the more I will love others, and the more some will love me.

“Love is the opener as well as closer of eyes.” ~ George MacDonald

We may seek power, meaning, or pleasure more than other things, but it is intimacy we truly desire.

“Few delights can equal the presence of one whom we trust utterly.”  ~ George MacDonald

 

Prayer

Part 2