Close, But No Cigar

An old friend told me about his idea that as long as a person is headed towards God, they’re safe.
He feels that they will escape the wrath of God by “being on a journey.” Meaning, having an intellectual curiosity about God, or in some way working towards a knowledge of God.
Close, but no cigar.
Sorry to anyone born in the past 40 years for that old idiom. In the fair grounds they used to have a game that would appeal to all the tough guys that wanted to show off their muscles to their girlfriends. They paid the carney two bucks to have a go at whacking a machine with a big sledge hammer. If they hit it hard enough, the little ball would go about 20 feet up the pole and ding the bell. If they were successful they would be awarded a cigar. The feeble looking carney could ding the bell every time because he knew the correct technique. There was always a great deal of testicular pride involved, as the young bucks would want to prove how powerful they were. Try as they may, most would fall short, hence the phrase “close but no cigar.”
In the scriptures, God clearly lays out His plan of His salvation offered to all men. God doesn’t make special exemptions for people who are seeking or who are on a journey towards Him. Jesus taught that there was a narrow path, and that there was a door. At some point, The Master would shut that door, excluding many. Christ himself being that door and repentance, then subsequent faith in Him being the only way in. The journey comes to an end when you go through the door, not before.
The problem is, people refuse to come to Jesus, because He requires them to repent. Repenting is no fun. Repenting is painful. Repenting is dying to your desires. Nobody purposely inflicts harm on themselves unless they truly hate themselves. Part of repenting is to hate your sin and self centered ways, and to love God and His righteousness. Being on a “journey” is trying to find a way of retaining your old self centered ways, but still receive a blessing from God. Kind of like having your cake and eating it too. Sorry, it doesn’t quite work that way.
The scriptures plainly reveal God’s plan for this world. To wrap your head around it involves the gift of spiritual understanding, and a commitment to obeying what He says to do. The gift usually doesn’t come until after the commitment is made.

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