I woke up early one Tuesday morning with a nagging pain in my right side. I knew immediately the cause: horseshoes. I had enjoyed a friendly match of horseshoes at a picnic the day before. The shoes were rusty, and so were the players, so our game took longer than usual. My aching ribs reminded me that I am neither young enough to avoid soreness, nor old enough to be good at horseshoes.
The one good thing about this backyard tradition is that you don’t have to hit that skinny stake or throw a “ringer” to score points. You just need to get it close. Now while close is good enough in horseshoes, when it comes to faith, you have to be right on target.
Once an Old Testament scholar questioned Jesus about which was the most important commandment. Jesus told him it was about love. To first love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and second to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:28-31). The scribe agreed, saying that whole-hearted love for God and sacrificial love for others was supreme (Mark 12:32-33).
The man was on the right track. He understood the basics of a godly life. Then Jesus said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (v. 34). This fellow was close, but not there yet. He was correct on the priority of loving God, but he had not directed his love toward Jesus.
The man saw Jesus as a “Teacher,” when Jesus was actually the Christ, the Lord of heaven in sandals standing right in front of him (Mark 12:35-37). “You believe in God; believe also in Me,” Jesus said (John 14:1). Close is good enough in horseshoes. But faith must be right on the mark.