Monday, January 24, 2011

Does God Know Your Name?

Where do you stand in your walk with the Lord?  Are you one of the people in line to hear, (Mat 25:23 KJV) "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."  Or, do you feel like you might just be in the line that hears, (Mat 7:23 KJV) "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

From the context, it appears that the later group is surprised to hear that they are not being welcomed into Eternity with God.  These people not only express shock, but back up their appeal with an argument claiming to have worked miracles in the name of Jesus.  The preceding verse reads as follows:  (Mat 7:22 KJV) "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?"  Jesus responds by telling them that He never knew them. 

It is passages such as this that should get our attention.  I, for one, believe that many "Christian" churches in America have a large number of members sitting in their pews, believing they are "saved", when they are in great danger of spending eternity in hell.

In the past week I have been asked by two different believers, "Do you think I am going to heaven?" and "Do you ever question whether or not you are a Christian?"  Maybe you have recently thought something similar.  Maybe you have had your thoughts turned to eternity and forced yourself to refocus due to the uncomfortable feeling that followed a sense of insecurity.  For a person to actually verbalize one of the above questions is a positive step in the right direction.  Too many will not let themselves go that far.

If I may make a general statement (acknowledging beforehand that it does not apply to everyone), Americans have grown complacent.  Is it that we are lazy, ignorant, deceived or just plain indifferent?  The following is a definition of complacency, from  "Self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies."

The glove fits many of our hands perfectly!  Many Americans, regardless of the size of their bank accounts, feel fairly self-sufficient.  This past week, I was talking to a minister who is leaving this week to work in Columbia.  He told me that in areas of Colombia, where the people are generally poor and have no financial security, they are praying all of the time.  They do not feel self-sufficient at all.  They openly acknowledge their need and helplessness, accompanied with a dependence upon God.

This scenario seems to fit a situation where Jesus might come up with a parable to make His point, without actually stating the obvious.  Between the poor Colombians who are praying always to God for deliverance and the comparatively rich Americans who rarely pray because they basically have all of their needs met by their own labors or the programs of government, which will be first in the kingdom of God?  To make sure you are not confused, the answer to the parable is not for you to become poor and destitute on purpose. 

In America, most of us who want them, have jobs with decent incomes.  We have the ability to drive to the grocery store and buy what we want for supper.  In fact, we can purchase the food our family will need for the next week and store it in our refrigerators.  In those cases where Americans are unable to buy the groceries for their family, our government will step in and supply free food.  If you lose your job, our government will step up and write you weekly checks.  If you are sick, our government will see to it that you get necessary health care. 

Many within our borders have become worshipers of government and it's welfare programs.  It is Washington D.C. and the politicians who usurped a position where they have become idols in the hearts and minds of many citizens. 

We, as a nation, are complacent, in general.  We are too self-sufficient and self-satisfied.  Why pray for needs when we have none?  This brings up the last part of the above definition, "...unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies."  I am no expert on theology, but from my perspective it would appear that many of us fall into the category of "unknowns" to God.  We sit in our usual seats in churches on Sunday mornings, halfway listening to the sermon and halfway considering where to go for lunch (worried that if the pastor talks too long, the Baptists will get to the restaurants before we can).  We stand and sing along with the songs, maybe even raise a hand while we sing.  The bold ones will say an occasional "amen".  We quickly shake a few hands in the front of the church and head to the parking lot, not to think about any of this again until it is time to set the alarm clock on the next Saturday evening. 

When this pattern becomes our "Christian" experience, do we really believe that we will hear "well done, good and faithful servant..."?  Somehow, I doubt that is in our future.  These "beat-the-Baptists-to-lunch-Christians" would probably all (each and every one) claim to be a believer in Jesus.  They, at some point in their lives, may have "walked the aisle" in response to an "invitation" and repeated "the prayer".  After which, they were assured that they were now Christians, on their way to heaven, "once-saved-always-saved".

Sitting in the same churches, many times, are found those who will hear "well done" and "enter thou into the joy of the Lord".  What is the difference?  Where is the line drawn that divides the two groups?  Theologians could preach a series of sermons on this subject, but let me offer a summary opinion.  When we turn to God and accept Jesus, acknowledging our belief that He is the Son of God who died on the cross in order to offer Himself as the sacrifice for our sins, He comes as a package deal.

The complacent believer accepts Jesus as their personal Saviour and uses Him as their "get out of hell free" card.  On the other side of the line are those who have fallen in love with Jesus the Saviour and welcomed Him as Jesus the Lord.  The trouble is that Jesus is not divisible, you either have Him as Saviour and Lord or you do not have Him at all.

What does it mean for Jesus to be our Lord?  Maybe it would help to think of Him as our King.  If you lived in an earthly kingdom, you would be expected to obey the king and serve him however he commanded.  So, with Jesus our King and Lord, he expects us to follow Him as he leads each of us. 

Two other verses from the same passage as quoted above (one just preceding and one just following) are as follows:  (Mat 7:21 KJV) "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."  (Mat 7:24 KJV) "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock".

If you believe in Jesus and have accepted Him as your Saviour, it is time to accept the rest of Him - LORD!  "All hail King Jesus"!  We will never regret anything that we gave up, lost, or sacrificed in this life in order to be invited to step across the welcome mat into heaven. 

If you are one who has been thinking a question about your place in eternity, good!  That shows that the Holy Spirit is working on you.  Yield to the Spirit of God and submit your life to serve Him.  That is where you will find assurance. 

No comments:

Post a Comment