There is a line that is crossed when we come to the Lord. That line is the border between darkness and light, unbelief and faith, death and life. Glimmers of light and faith from the realm of life have helped us find the way to this line, but the new birth takes us across the threshold that separates spiritual death from spiritual life.
This is not the end of the journey, only the beginning of a new journey. We should not stop and rest as soon as we cross the line. Yet too many people do just that. They had to abandon some baggage on the other side that would be an unnecessary load on the new journey. Still, that baggage was precious in their former life, an essential part of the way they identified themselves. As they mill around, just across the line, the way ahead begins to seem difficult and the baggage once left behind grows in importance. All too soon, they are back on the wrong side of the line.
They give all kinds of reasons for this: people inside the line just did not understand them; they were never told what it was going to cost to leave that baggage behind; people inside the line are not as friendly as they first seemed; and on and on.
The true reason is that these people have stopped when the Lord said “Come.” He wants us to continually come closer to Him. If we obey that call, we will find that with each step of the way the light grows brighter and faith grows stronger.
Many of those who have gone back the way they came still claim to have a good relationship with the Lord. Let all such measure their claim of fellowship with God by their fellowship with God’s children. The teaching of the New Testament is that if our relationship with our neighbour is broken and our fellowship with our brethren is broken, our fellowship with God is also broken.
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
“He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now” (1 John 2:9). “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (1 John 3:14). “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20).
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
Some folk profess a holy allegiance to this commandment to love their neighbour and all mankind. Yet it seems that this love is largely theoretical, for in observing their relationship to individual people, it appears they just cannot get along with many of them. May that never be said of a true child of God.
So how do we press deeper into the kingdom of light? I would suggest a very simple answer: spend time with God and with His people.
Read the Bible to understand how God worked in ages past and how He works today. Read the whole Bible. It is good to read the Bible from beginning to end at least once or twice in your life. It is not necessary to do that continually, but reading the Bible in context leads to a deeper understanding. Therefore it is best to read one complete book of the Bible at a time, breaking it up into bite-sized pieces for daily reading.
Thank God daily for salvation and all the blessings He has showered upon you. Take a little time to remember all He has done. Pray for grace for each day, pray for your family, pray for the ministers, pray for our governments, pray for those you have difficulty understanding.
Be present in every worship service of your congregation, as much as possible. We simply cannot worship God as fully when we are alone. Maybe there are some people in church who rub us the wrong way. This may be a question of the chicken or the egg — did we first rub them the wrong way? We have no doubt rubbed others the wrong way and they have chosen to ignore it and love us anyway. Try to emulate such people.
Practice hospitality. The apostle Peter gives this as a commandment: “Use hospitality one to another without grudging” (1 Peter 4:9). If you ever feel that the other members of the congregation have left you out of the loop and you do not feel a part of what is going on, ask yourself how long it has been since you had company in your home and sat around and talked of the things that really matter. If circumstances make it difficult to prepare a big Sunday meal, invite people for night lunch or afternoon coffee break. Such little things do make a big difference. Do not be too choosy whom you invite.