Misjudging the Distance
Misjudging the Distance
I like to play a lot of what could be considered precision sports. These are things like golf and archery. They are precision sports because your goal is to hit a ball or shoot an arrow as accurately as possible from some distance. When you are just beginning to learn the sport, your distance doesn't matter much. For example, there is very little difference between 120 and 125 yards when I play golf because my technique is not good enough to control my distance. If you play these sports for very long, however, inevitably, you will need to know an exact distance. The difference of 5 yards in archery could be between the bullseye and barely hitting the target.
Here is the thing about distance, there is only one correct answer to the question, "How far is that?" In golf and sometimes in archery, you have to estimate or guess the distance to the hole or the target. Regardless of your guess, the distance can only be one value. It almost seems silly to use this example because everyone understands there is an absolute value when it comes to distance, a truth about distance.
What about the question, "Is there a right way to live?" Can we find a single truth to this question? The Bible indicates that there is such an answer. In John 14:16, Jesus says that he is the way, the truth, and the life, meaning that there is no other option. I want to consider an application that we can draw from our sports analogy with that in mind.
My feelings or perceptions are irrelevant to the truth. When lining up my bow to shoot, I might estimate that it is 45 yards to the target. After watching my arrow sail over the top of the target, I measure the distance to figure out it is only 30 yards. I might say something like, "there is no way that's only 30 yards!" or "I just knew it was 45 yards!" The point is, it doesn't matter what I thought I knew or how I felt. In reality, the target was 30 yards away, and I missed.
In the same way, many people feel a certain way about spiritual matters. People in Christendom say things like, "I haven't been to church in years, but God and I are okay," or "I feel like God won't let me go to hell." Statements like these are the exact same thing as saying, "That's 45 yards," and failing to measure. Like golf or archery, there will come a time when the consequences will show themselves. In sports, it's when it comes time to execute the shot. Your ball comes up well short, or your arrow sails beyond the target, and it's at that moment you know you didn't have the truth.
In a much more serious context, a day of judgment is coming where consequences will be handed out. It will be more important than ever to know the truth on that day because it will determine where you spend eternity. In a familiar passage, Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven," and "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness." Do you know the truth? Are you sure? Let's all make sure to study our bibles so that we don't miss the target on judgment day.