I love God. I enjoy the way He speaks to me. With God, there is no happenstance, no coincidence. There is purpose and intentional.
Today, Bill (our preaching minister) and I went to the “Linn County Area Evangelicals” meeting. The teaching today was from a preacher from Kansas City. He gave a very compelling message on HIV/AIDS and the evangelical response. The man was African-American, and for the first meeting (in the 2 I have attended), there were other African-Americans there. Again, he gave a compelling message. Throughout his message, the other Africa-Americans in the room, were saying things like “amen” and the like. It was very cool to be outside of my typical white Christian context. Basically, the gist of his message was that “they” (the people with AIDS) needed to be treated no differently by the church than we would treat a cancer patient, or a hurricane Katrina victim. The text he preached from was Mark 9:1-29. He stated that all too often, we (the church) are like Peter, James and John…we’re so happy to be with Jesus at the top of the mountain, we neglect those at the bottom.
Then, I got back to church and read Praise Habit. The Psalm discussed was 113, and it is a Psalm about the justice that God delivers, how God, used His justice to create, deliver and rescue Israel, how his love endures forever. Crowder concludes with this…”Justice will be our concern because it is God’s concern. And what is it that causes this to well up in us? It is His unrelenting love. This is praise-taking care of everyone in time of need. It is picking up those who are marginalized and whose voices are unheard and saying, “Look! Look!” Not in calculated ways to improve our perceived spiritual stand but because it is in us. His unrelenting love has consumed us and when we see need there seems no alternative but to respond in the fluid movements of this redeeming covering of Christ”
Just as I was made uncomfortable by this pastor from Kansas City, I’m sure that there were others. My trees need to be shaken. My theology needs to be questioned. How about you? Are you open to the possibility that you could be wrong about something? Is there the slightest chance that you are incorrect? Think about the Apostle Paul…before his conversion, he was doing God’s work…the same God we serve, he sought, he killed for. And on that road to Damascus, he came face to face with the One he had persecuted, and was enlightened. Like Paul we each have things we could boast about. Some of us have been going to church for 30 years. Some of us come from a long line of Christians. But like Paul, if we have not met Him face to face, if we have not allowed Him to radically alter our life, our accomplishments, our faith-resumes mean nothing. They count for nothing.
Matthew 7:21-23 really scares me, and it shoud scare you. Just before these verses Jesus is talking about fruit in the lives of believers. He likens them to fruit trees, and says that the trees that fail to bear fruit will be cast aside and burned. Jesus then drops a bombshell and says that not all who call Jesus Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven, only those who do His will. He goes on to say that many will ask, didn’t we prophecy in your name, didn’t we cast out demons in your name, didn’t we do works of power in your name? The response of Jesus is stunning. It is final. “I will declare to them: I NEVER KNEW YOU. Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity”. Notice He did not say “well, I knew you from 1986-1994, we hung out, we were buds. And you were baptised!” No! He uses the word NEVER; the Greek here is ????????, and it means NEVER, not even at any time, never at all. Never. So, if we fail to do the will of God, fail to be obedient to how He would have us live, if we fail to daily participate in His death by taking up our cross and die daily to self, He does not know us. Despite our church membership. Despite our participation in men’s and women’s groups. NEVER.
So what do we do? All who seek God will find Him. We love God with all our hearts minds and souls. We love our neighbors (even those homosexuals!) as ourselves. We follow scripture when it tells us how to have assurance of salvation. Basically, we pull a George Costanza from Seinfeld and do the opposite of everything we’ve ever done. We meet God on the road to Damascus, allow ourselves to be blinded by Him who gives true light, we allow ourselves to be proven wrong by God. We cast aside all of the things that hinder our full obedience to God, regardless of cost or consequence. And we become His.