I've kind of wrestled with the title of this one; as if there is just one thing. (lol) Now don’t get me wrong, I'm not some poor, abused soul trapped in a never ending crush of heartbreak and heartache that leave me sleep deprived; it's not like that at all. I love what I'm doing and I love where we're at, I am completely energized by it despite heartbreak and heartache being a significant part of it. But theologically speaking, even professionally speaking (On an aside, I'm REALLY beginning to question the very concept of "professional ministry") there are numerous passages in scripture that influence who I am and how I lead; they shape who we are as a church.
However, there are a handful that seem to float to the top, one in particular is the impetus for this piece, which in turn leads directly into tomorrow's piece. It is a passage that I think fueled, in part, a lot of the "discomfort" and spiritual restlessness I wrote about earlier in this series; that sense that there just had to be something more to this "faith" and "church" thing. It is a passage that has cost me sleep.
It was also a passage that came to the forefront in seminary during a conversation with a friend about nominal Christianity, where we both came to the chilling and heartbreaking conclusion that perhaps the Body of Christ is not as big as we think that it is. This caused me to wonder, if that is the case, then what responsibilities do those not only in the pulpits, but also those who call on the name of Christ bear?
The passage comes as Jesus is wrapping up the Sermon on Mount (Matthew 7); He is talking about the narrow and wide gates, true and false prophets, and then He comes to true and false disciples:
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. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
A few points about this passage. The first is the very idea that not everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven; that alone ought to grab hold of us all. But isn't that in essence the rule of contemporary Christendom? "Just call on the name of Geee-zus!" We've collectively sold people a bill of goods wrapped simply in reciting the "sinners prayer" and we leave them entirely undiscipled and alone with the idea that they have somehow come to the "end" of religion, they have conquered, their “prize” awaits in the great beyond. But here's the thing...the people that Jesus is speaking of are calling out His name because they BELIEVE that they know Him.
But it doesn't end there. Not only do they believe they know the Lord and call out His name, but they are also doing some pretty remarkable things in His name; prophesying, driving out demons, and performing MANY miracles. You know, I know the week is only half over, and, well, as I look back over the week…..I haven't done any of those things; and these folks have! Jesus’ response to this? Harsh. Very harsh. What hope is there for any of us!?
They don't understand what’s going on and my heart breaks for them. How terrifying a thought to come confidently to judgment only to be denied. As a pastor, as a Christ follower, I NEVER want my flock, my friends, and my family to endure such a thing. With that said, I'm not going to claim a complete, authoritative understanding of it either, but I think we’ve got a pretty good idea. It is what ultimately allows me to sleep. As a matter of fact, it influences everything that we do, are, and aim to be at Heathen Church. As a church, we are not comfortable with leaving your salvation to chance. Once again, not that we have all the answers…goodness. However, we are confident in the answers and understanding we do have.
More to come tomorrow…
More to come tomorrow…