The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian can be found in the direction they run. Back in the Garden of Eden, God would come to walk with Adam and Even in the cool of the evening. I am sure that they would run to be with God. Then everything changed. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. When God came to walk with Adam and Eve they ran in the opposite direction. They hid from Him.
Most people try to live their lives ignoring God; acting as if He doesn’t exist, is not interested in them or just doesn’t care that much. But when people are confronted with the presence of God they must react. They just can’t stay still. They have to move and they will either move toward God or move away from God, attempting to hide from Him.
The Exodus is a great example. The Children of Israel had been in Egyptian captivity for 400 years. They had really lost contact with who God was. The Egyptians had never known God. They both came into contact with God in a major way. The Israelites were gradually drawn to God. The Pharaoh on the other hand hardened his heart against God. The greater the contact the harder his heart became. The plagues against Egypt were each an assault against the power and authority of the Egyptian gods. At each step the Pharaoh could have stopped and acknowledged the power and authority of the one true God, but instead he resisted. This continued way beyond any kind of rational thinking. God’s power and presence was simply undeniable and yet Pharaoh resisted. It was insane.
In the future there will be another dramatic encounter with the presence of God. Christians typically relates this to the Second Coming of Christ. The Old Testament often referred to it as “The Day of the Lord”.
Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come and who shall be able to stand?
When Christ returns those that know Him will rejoice in His coming; they will run to Him. Those who don’t know Him will be terrified by His coming and will run from Him.
So which do you do? We are like little kids. When we do something wrong and Dad comes home we are confronted with a dilemma. There are two sides to dad. He is both justice and love. We know that discipline is likely to come. We also know that he loves us and would never do anything to really harm us. At some level we know that everything he does is for our ultimate good, but the fear is still there. So, do you run to him, confess your sin and ask for mercy? Or do you hide your wrongdoing and avoid your father; hoping that he will never find out.
I have seven kids. Each of them reacted to me in different ways. The truth be told I think they all feared me a little more than they understood how much I loved them. Some were well behaved and did little wrong. When they did they were anxious to make it right. Some hid things. Some would openly confess everything that I already knew. Their confessions were carefully worded and filled with half-truths. I continue to worry about them to this day. You see the way that my children relate to me is a direct reflection of how they relate to God. For these children there will continue to be a barrier between them and God; something hidden that keeps them from open fellowship.
I had one encounter with one of my children that will haunt me forever. He/she (I won’t tell you which one) had done something wrong. I can’t even remember what it was now, but I remember the process. He/she was caught. I took him/her into private for discipline. I had read all the books and heard all of the stories as to how to do it right.
- You calmly confront the child
- Get a confession
- Talk about what they have done wrong
- Determine if there is a need for discipline or mercy (whichever will be more effective with that child in that particular situation)
- Talk about how to behave in the future
- Hug and comfort the child, reassure them of your love and restore fellowship
That is how the books said it should work, but tragically that didn’t happen. He/she was paralyzed with fear (at least that is what I think was happening). He/she would never confess. We never talked about what went wrong in any constructive way. It ended up being a lecture and discipline with no repentance; no instruction, no comfort, no healing and I believe permanent damage to our fellowship. It was awful. What is really sad is that I had predetermined that I wanted to extend mercy. But without a confession I couldn’t. My hands were tide. I was forced into nothing but judgment. I think this refusal to confess sin and admit wrong has continued to affect his/her relationship with God.
We are all told to fear God. It is a repeated theme throughout scripture. Some would like to water that down to just a healthy respect or reverence. I don’t think so! God is powerful and He holds our destiny in His hands. We should FEAR Him. We should also understand that He loves us more than we can imagine. The irony is that those who fear His judgment so much that they refuse to confess their sins are bound to experience His wrath. Those who run from Him will be chased down and destroyed. On the other hand those who understand that God is not only just but also merciful will run to Him, confess their sins and receive His forgiveness and live in fellowship with Him.
1 John 1:8-9
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
A Christian or a non-Christian can be identified by which way they run.
Which way do you run?