Twenty years later and the truth hasn't changed. Jesus said about himself, "I am the way," - and he is. He said, "I am the truth," - and he is. He said, "I am the life," - and he is. And there's no truth, there's no life, there's nothing worth living for outside of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, I truly believe that.
A guy came to Jesus at one point and he said, "Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Very interesting question: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Then Jesus answered him, he said, "Well, you shall love the Lord, your God, and you shall not lie, honour you mother and father," and so on; quoted a bunch of the ten commandments. This kid is sometimes referred to as the rich, young ruler, and he said this...he said, "All these things I've done since my youth." Good Jewish kid, went to synagogue, you know, he had the ten commandments down - he understood, up here at least. Jesus looks at him with love and said, "This one thing you lack..." He said, "Go and sell your possessions, give your money to the poor and then come follow me." And it says that the young man went away sad, because he had a lot of stuff. Isn't it interesting that almost two thousand years ago Jesus Christ spoke squarely to a young man who lost any real relationship with God the Father on the basis of materialism?
See, in this day, still so many people are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. We are more concerned about our bank account than what God thinks of us. It's time we wake up. See, the word of God talks about pure religion being this: that you...that you take care of widows and orphans in their affliction, in their suffering, and you keep yourself unspotted from the world. What does it mean to be a Christian? Now I do believe it's by faith, not by works, that we're saved; that nobody is justified by fulfilling the works of the law...but what was Jesus saying to this guy? "In your case, you're more concerned with materialism than a relationship with God the Father." Another time he said, "The most important commandment is to love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and the second most important commandment is just like it..." Like, curious words out of Jesus' mouth. Jesus' words, not mine. "You shall love your neighbour as you love yourself. As you've done it unto the least of these, my brethren, you've done it unto me." What's it about, people? Is it about some cheap prayer we pray and sixty minutes a week, or is it a relationship with God? No wonder people aren't coming to Jesus. When they see so little of him in those of us that call ourselves Christians, why would they be followers of Jesus Christ on the basis of our example?
Too many of us don't give food, or money, or time to the poor. Too many of us are too busy with ourselves, and we are full of a lot of things...but we aren't full of Jesus Christ. We try to fill our lives with so many things: success, music, money, drugs, education. Yeah, education - good stuff; I mean education - fine, wonderful. You know what the Bible says: "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, reverence for God." How much of your time, your money, your effort, your life really belongs to him? Many of you prayed the prayer, but you're not living for Jesus. Many of you need to pray: "Forgive me, come into my heart, help me to follow you."...But then it's this messy business of following Jesus, of doing what he would do, of seeing people the way God would see them, of caring, of sharing what little that you may have to help your neighbour, regardless of his colour, regardless of his social standing. God the Father sent his son, and God the Son came into the world to suffer for us...for what? - So we could pray a prayer and continue on just as we were. That's not a relationship with God. Being born again means being spiritually born, it means a changed life. It means you begin to care about people around you who are hurting, and you do what you can to demonstrate the love of God to them. Well, this young man went away sad because he had a lot of stuff. Welcome to the truth. Why...why deny? Why play the game?
If you need to pray, I'd like you to pray a simple prayer out loud to God. You know as well as I it's not just repeating words. Father, forgive me for the sins in my life. I believe that Jesus took the punishment on the cross, that I could be forgiven. Jesus, forgive me and come into my heart, and help me to follow you. Remind me again and again that your empty grave means a full life for me. You and your will is what I need. Help me to follow you from this night, regardless of the cost. I pray this prayer, Father, in the name of your son, my Lord and my risen saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.