By Robert Halsey Pine
“Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, ‘I have come to know him,’ but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection.” (1 John 2:1-11 NRSV).
I spent the first half my life saying, “I have come to know Him.” I was a liar. I thought that by being someone most people liked, that I must be a good guy and pleasing to God. There was still in me, however, that self-centeredness that caused me to disobey his commandments, to ignore His Word. I thought that because I had such a great personality, that God wouldn’t mind a few indiscretions here and there. If I cheer up my fellow men and women, how can God be unhappy with me?
I found the answer to my question. I had to hit a few brick walls in my life in order to find it. When I figured out that I wasn’t Superman but very vulnerable in this world, God began to reveal to me that my idea of being a good guy was far from His. When I figured out that I was really going to die someday, my life began to change. I started listening to the Lord more and more.
It is hard for us to shed our childishness. It is our nature to get into mischief. At some point, however, we must mature in our relationship with our Lord and God. We cannot continue to be good people if we are not obeying His commandments, His Word.
This is not all that easy. We must abandon ourselves to Him. We must surrender in prayer to Him. There is no shortcut or halfway commitment. If we try these, He will bring us to our knees. We cannot fully receive His love when we want to hold out this or that.
I once shared the experience I had on a spiritual retreat with inmates at a local state prison. As I told my friend of the conversion experience that some of the inmates had gone through on the retreat, he made a comment to me. He said, “You know, maybe God had to get them into prison before he could get their attention.”
Unfortunately, many of us have to have something tragic happen in our lives before God can get our attention. God doesn’t want to see us suffer, but He will allow us to run our course, patiently waiting for us to give Him our full attention. He loves us and He is always waiting. The ball is in our court.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.