I have such amazing news to share with you! I won the lottery! Well . . . almost. I was two numbers off the winning number, but I was so close. Oh but, let me tell you something even more exciting; I have saved up enough money to buy a Lamborghini Gallarado. . . well, almost. I’m still $200,000 short, since I only almost won that lottery draw, but I’m still pretty close. I’m not too concerned though, because what good is a car if you don’t have somewhere to park it? That’s right good reader at home, I have just bought a mortgage on my first house . . . well almost. I’ve been looking at properties online and found some favourites, but haven’t quite made any financial commitments yet.
There is an enormous difference between almost doing something, and actually doing something isn’t there? When you do something, you make a committed investment with hopes of reaping future rewards. Almost doing something means that you will never reap any rewards, because no action was made. This leads us to one of the most heart wrenching sentences ever composed.
Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to be a Christian.” Acts 26:28
The royal dignitary King Agrippa, had heard the amazing testimony of Paul, of how Jesus had radically changed his life from a wanton murderer and consecutive winner of ‘Christian Persecutor of the Month’, to the leading voice of Christianity in the early first century, and being instrumental in the sharing of the Gospel to the Gentile world. Paul had clearly expressed the life transformation and saving grace he had experienced through his relationship with Jesus, and Agrippa too made the decision to accept salvation and follow Jesus . . . almost. And in only almost making a decision, Agrippa would reap no reward for his belief. No eternal life, no radical life transformation, no purpose and meaning in life through God. He would reap nothing.
Jesus expresses this idea most succinctly in his story of the Prodigal Son, in which an ambitious son of a wealthy landowner, asks his father for his inheritance, so that he can live a life of self-indulgence and pleasure. Respecting his son’s wish, the father allows him to go out into the world, where he quickly finds himself short of money, desperate for food, and resorts to taking a job feeding pigs, so at least he can eat the pig’s food from the trough.
The hopeful message of this story, is that the Prodigal Son decided to return to his father, who accepts and embraces him with open arms, throws his son a party, gives him new clothes and celebrates his return. But what would the Prodigal Son’s life look like if he had almost gone back home. He would have continued eating scraps instead of a feast. He would have lived in tattered rags instead of the new robes his father brought him. He would have spent his time alone, instead of with family and friends. All this could have been his future, if he had chosen to almost go back home to his father.
Just like the Prodigal Son, we have all turned away from our Father in Heaven, chosen to sin and lead lives that suit ourselves instead of obeying God. But, God is waiting for us with open homes, eager to receive us if we will return to him, so that like the Prodigal Son, like Paul, he can give us eternal life, a radical life transformation, and meaning and purpose in life. All of this can be ours if we make the decision to follow Jesus. But in order to reap the reward, we must make the decision.
Today, you can make the choice. You can either be like Agrippa and be an ‘almost Christian’ or be like Paul and the Prodigal Son, who accepted the gifts their Heavenly Father wanted to bestow upon them. What decision will you make?
By Christopher Petersen
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