Why aren’t there some words – profound, insightful, loving, deep, meaningful, powerful words– which, when read, heard, or said will immediately and instantaneously make a person perfectly good in this life and remain so until they die, thus enjoying eternal glory in Heaven? Why cannot words such as these be written which, once read, change one into a saint?
Right Love Ever God Always Moral Salvation Eternal Duty Grace Perpetual Pure Paradise Forever Strength Worthy Goodness Redeemed Endless Heaven Virtue Justice Happiness
Actually, there are even better words, words inspired by God:
You have the words of everlasting life (Jn 6:68).
He has also put eternity in their hearts (Ecc 3:11).
I am the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6).
Today you will be with me in Paradise (Lk 23:43).
So many have read and heard God’s words, but with little or no change in their lives. Simply hearing or saying the words did not earn them a “Get Out Of Hell Free” card. Why can’t these words alone change people? Why don’t the words work all on their own like “Open Sesame?”
The simple, and in some ways paradoxical, answer is because God loves you so much.
He could have made each of us a machine, an automaton, a robot – like a stone, a waterfall or a flower that by its very being and beauty proclaims His glory. Each of us, a lovely, even fascinating, God-created robot, could say the words. But then we would not be someone unique for Him to love, and He would not be loved by us. In His almighty power He made each of us free. That freedom of will is part of His divine image and likeness in everyone. He made everyone free to choose Him or to turn away from Him. Out of pure, infinite, total love He made us. He put His voice in our hearts, the voice of conscience, which says, over and over Do good, avoid evil.
He could easily force us to do anything, to “do good,” but He will not force us to do good. He will not compel us to love Him. This is one awesome God, one awesome Lover. His voice in our hearts does not say only listen, it says hear and then do – and then leaves the actual doing up to us.
Jesus speaks over and over about those who hear the word but fail to act on it, who fail to make what the word says part of who they are. And there are those who hear the word, and then reject it. When He says “those who have ears to hear, let them hear,” He is not saying all you have do is listen. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus sums up what one is to do besides merely hearing: “He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it’ ” (Lk 11:28).
“Keep it” is a Greek word, transliterated “phulasso.” One translation of this word is “to take care to do.” Other translations of this word are: obey, practice, and observe. All of these translations convey more than simply hearing. They all convey that a person, to “keep” the word, must hear, choose to act, and then act, in accord with the word that has been heard.
Living out one’s faith is much more than saying some words about God, Jesus, love, or Heaven. Jesus made this clear when He told us: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 7:21).
There are some words that can be a beginning to what must be done to spend eternity with God – words like “I do”, “I will,” “I accept,” and “I choose.” Freely chosen actions of virtue following such words are how we “keep” the word of God.
God says Let there be light and there is light. We do not have this divine power. We cannot make something so simply by saying it. But God has given us power unlike all other earthly creations. We can hear His word and we can keep it. We can freely choose to do good, and, by doing good make good. We do not create out of nothing, but make good by doing good that did not exist before. Perhaps a meaningful prayer is Lord, Lord, thank You for letting me hear, and please give me Your grace to now do good.