- Matthew 7:22-23 (ESV)
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
What does it mean to be known by the Messiah? How is one known by Jesus that one may not one day be faced with the unmitigated horror of being told by the Messiah, after operating under the false assumption that one had a relationship with Him, to depart from His presence into the outer darkness?
Somewhat tangential to the aforementioned question, does the 21st century American church, with admirable intentions, sometimes inadvertently present Him as a means to an end, as a freely dispensed drug that gives eternal life to those who take it? Does the church sometimes redefine itself to make Jesus and the His church more marketable, more attractive, to an increasingly competitive and post-Christian market? As an unforeseen side-effect of well-intentioned methodologies, do some manifestations of the contemporary America church sometimes seem more obsessed with the bride than the Bridegroom as they engage their bold, creative, and innovative evangelical visions, marketing schemes and strategies?
Too, why and when did those who have not repented and believed in Christ, who have not been presented with the Good News, become redefined as the ‘unchurched’ demographic? Returning to the opening query, what does it really mean to have a ‘relationship with Jesus?’ Has this phrase became just another evangelical cliché? Do we not all, ‘churched’ or not, have a relationship with Him of one sort or another? When did the often-heard invitation for the ‘unchurched’ to have a ‘relationship with Jesus’ replace the biblical call to ‘repent and believe’ in Christ?’
We are called by Christ in the New Testament to examine ourselves. What fruit are we bearing in our lives as we follow Christ? From the mouth comes the over-flow of the heart. What do we think about and what do we talk about most often and most excitedly? What, or Who, are we obsessed with? Hobbies? Sports? Work? The worries of the increasingly difficult economics of making ends meet? Or are we, over time, growing in our love for the Bridegroom? Is He valued and exalted above all, even our families? Or are we noisy gongs and clashing cymbals? We must ask ourselves, do we love the gift more than the Giver? How will our love for Christ manifest itself? Maybe how we answer these last few questions relates to the opening question.
- 1 Corinthians 13 (ESV)
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
- 2 Peter 1:3-11 (ESV)
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.