Is “Almost” the saddest word there is in any language? (Thought for July 2020)

July 4, 2020

in Uncategorized

On Thursday afternoon (25th June 2020), I watched the Chief Minister for Gibraltar appear before the House of Lords Brexit Committee. In the current environment there are no hearings in person in parliament, so instead of flying to London as he would do for these periodic meetings, he appeared by videoconference from No 6 Convent Place. That is the equivalent of 10 Downing Street here and the session was also televised live on GBC, the local TV station. Appearing before a large committee of Lords & Ladies, he was invited to speak and then asked questions. That reminded me of the audience that the apostle Paul had before King Agrippa, recorded for us in Acts chapter 26.

King Agrippa opens the royal audience by telling Paul in verse one that he was permitted to speak. That was not unlike the House of Lords committee chairman inviting the Chief Minister to address the committee and make his opening remarks which he did with a concise summary of Brexit preparations and aspirations for the ongoing negotiations.

Important as that audience was, it did not carry the life and death importance of the address that Paul made to King Agrippa. Paul started by explaining his deep understanding of Jewish laws and customs of which he was an expert. He then went on to explain how he had led the persecution of Christians who believed in Jesus Christ and followed his teaching. Then came the bombshell. This expert in Jewish matters, renowned amongst his peers, explained very clearly to King Agrippa how he had come to the point where he realised that far from opposing the clear belief in the Jewish faith that God would send a Messiah, Jesus Christ was in fact that promised Messiah.

I can only imagine you could have heard a pin drop on the floor at this point in the hearing. Paul had clearly, carefully and logically explained how he had reached this conclusion. King Agrippa was listening intently to Paul addressing him and who knows, probably nodding as he agreed with the logic of the points Paul made as he built up and presented the case for Jesus Christ being God’s Messiah. The pressure was obviously so intense that the Governor who was present, an official called Festus, actually interrupted Paul to disagree, before allowing him to finish.

No doubt everyone had their eyes on King Agrippa when Paul finished speaking. How would he react? There was no angry outburst from the sovereign. No criticism of the case Paul had put. Instead did King Agrippa use the saddest word there is in any language when faced with a decision that carries with it eternal consequences? He simply said “you almost persuade me to become a Christian”.

Almost. One word of just six letters which when you add it to most sentences, completely changes the meaning of that sentence from achievement to failure. Are you an “almost” person? In the current pandemic outbreak, there are many uncertainties. However, having saving faith in Jesus Christ is not one of these. If you are not a Christian, please don’t sit on the cusp and hide behind the saddest word in any language. Almost isn’t enough, because it also carries with it permanent consequences.

Almost persuaded” now to believe;
“Almost persuaded” Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
“Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
On Thee I’ll call.”

Almost persuaded,” come, come today;
“Almost persuaded,” turn not away;
Jesus invites you here,
Angels are lingering near,
Prayers rise from hearts so dear; Hymn by Phillip Bliss  (1876)

Kevin Borrett


June 2020

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