There is nothing quite so exciting as an exciting night at America's busiest airport - O'Hare. My goal was relatively simple - get on my plane and fly home. Easier said then done. The radar had suddenly gone down that night and there was only one runway open. I was frustrated because I could not get out of the airport. But pity those poor people up there who couldn't land. At least I could go outside and walk around. That's tougher when you're up there in the sky. We could see the lights of those planes and they could see the lights of Chicago down below. They were almost there, they could see their destination, but they weren't on the ground. Some circled so long they eventually had to be diverted to another destination that they didn't want to go to. Oh, the frustration of being almost there, but not there.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Circling The Airport."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Mark 12:28. "One of the teachers of the law came and...asked Jesus, 'Of all the commandments, which is the most important?' 'The most important one,' answered Jesus, 'is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'" The teacher agreed with Jesus' about the highest priority being a personal love relationship with God. verse 34 says, "When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, He said to him, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.'"
One of the most dangerous spiritual positions in the world is to be - not far - but not in. Like those airline passengers that frustrating night in Chicago, almost there, but not there. There are so many people who live almost belonging to Jesus and who die that way.
What kind of person is, in Jesus' words, not far from going to heaven but not in? Someone like this teacher, someone who has all the right information about Jesus, all the right answers. Someone who understands that eternal life is not about having a religion but about having a personal relationship with your Creator. Someone who respects Jesus and who, in many ways, believes in Him. Maybe someone very much like you.
If agreeing with Jesus was what would get you to heaven, you'd be in. If trying to live by Jesus' ways was enough, you'd be in. But listen to the words of God, the only One whose opinion really matters. "It is with your heart that you believe and are justified" (made right with God). And "believe" in the Bible is a total heart commitment, admitting that as a sinner, there is nothing you can contribute to being rescued spiritually. Telling Jesus that He is your only hope because only He paid the penalty for your sin on the cross.
Many people are in for a horrible surprise when they die, that even though they were close to belonging to Jesus, they never really knew Him. In fact, the Bible says, Jesus will say those exact words, "I never knew you." I don't ever want you to hear those words. Jesus doesn't want you to hear them!
You may be 18 inches from heaven, the distance from your head to your heart. Not far, but not in. Close to going to heaven, but still with your sins unforgiven, still headed for a Christless eternity. There has never been that time when you gave yourself to Jesus.
God sees you circling, putting off landing, and He's giving you this opportunity to finally belong to Jesus. Don't play with the possibility of crashing forever because you circled but never landed.
Tell Jesus right now, "Lord, this is my day to begin a relationship with You. I'm putting all my trust in You to rescue me from the penalty of my sin - to get me to heaven."
You're almost home, it's within sight, but you have to land. You're not far but you're not in. That could change right now. Come home - while you can.