Saturday, June 14, 2014

What You Do With Jesus Isn't As Important As What He will Do With You

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 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?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The question is often asked these days; “What will you do with Jesus?”

I am aware that this is an earnest question asked in a desire to compel the lost to come to a conclusion about who Christ was and what He claimed about Himself. It puts me in mind of Lewis’ trichotomy, Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic or He was Lord; but He could not be all of them. I freely confess that the claims that Christ made about Himself demand that we must come to a conclusion about who He is. Yet I am not convinced that the best question to ask is “What will you do with Jesus?”

In all honesty I am not terribly concerned with what people will do with Jesus. I know this sounds a bit lax; and maybe it is; and I may need to repent of this later (Sorry that was my nod to Mark Driscoll), but I am just not terribly concerned with what the lost world does with Him. In fact, judging from what most of the professing Church does with Christ; my greater concerns are with them. Sadly we live in a day and age where all too many people who claim Christianity as their religion have done terrible things with Jesus. They have made Him their buddy; their homeboy; their BFF; their boyfriend; their husband; their personal genie; their excuser; and even in some cases their lover. 

Consider this scene from the book The Shack (I am paraphrasing the account for the sake of time.) The “protagonist” is walking along the shore of a lake with the author’s version of Christ and he begins to curse. He realizes after a moment that he is cursing in front of Jesus and looks at Him almost sheepishly. To His surprise Jesus is chuckling at his indiscretion and waves it off as no big deal because men’s curse words are of no consequence to God. I am pretty certain that there is no scenario that any godly person could ever imagine where they would even utter so much as “shoot” in the presence of Christ if for some reason He happened to be walking along side of them.

Consider Ann Voskamp’s overly sexualized familiarity with Christ in her book One Thousand Gifts; where she speaks in lascivious terms about Jesus; or the godhead in general. (I will not give the explicit examples here because having read them it makes me terribly uncomfortable to even mention them.) Consider the movement within evangelical Christianity that has single women buying wedding rings and wearing them and telling anyone willing to listen that Jesus is their husband. This may sound proper; but it isn’t. Furthermore it has its roots in Roman Catholicism where we see nuns wearing wedding rings because they are married to Jesus. Jesus is not the husband of individual believers. Jesus is the Groom of the Church. Individuals make up the Church and in unity with the Body of Christ we are united to Christ in that marriage. For anyone to claim that they are married to Christ individually is blasphemous, and bordering on grotesque when one considers the implications of what it means for a couple to be married. The communion between Christ and His Bride is no doubt intimate, more intimate than any physical relationship between a man and woman. Make no mistake; the woman or man even, who claims that they are individually married to Christ is failing to understand this well.

I do not argue against the theological reality that Jesus is the friend of sinners; but when we take him from the context of “He who lays down his life for his friends” and put Him into the context of being our BFF over-and-against being a mighty Savior and Lord; we cheapen what it is that He accomplished in laying His life down. Bear with me here; understand what it is I am saying; we have become all together all too familiar with Christ. This is not to say that we know Him too well. No believer will ever know too much of Christ. It is to say that we have come to treat Him as if He is one of us. We appear to read statements such as “he was like us in every way…” and stop there. We behave in such a way so as to appear as if He isn’t our Lord and that He does not have the right to command us or demand our obedience and submission. Can you imagine your best earthly friend looking at you and telling you to bow your knee to them? 

I will freely confess that as good of friends as I have in this world; not one of them is a better friend to me than my wife. She is the one who lives alongside me every day. She is the one who watches my struggles and my sins as they work up to the surface of my very being. She is as close to being a BFF as I will ever have. She calls me on my sins and encourages me when I am down and tells me when I am doing well. She however is not Christ, and if I walked into my house some night after being on duty all day and heard her say “Submit. Bow your knee.” I would laugh at her. Then I would probably gauge the level of seriousness she said it with and prepare the proper rebuke if need be. Yet if the Friend of Sinners came to me right now He would not need to tell me to bow my knee, I would fall on my face and worship; because He is worthy and my knees should bow. No BFF in the world is worthy of such a reaction. No person in this world is worthy of such a reaction or response. Only the Lamb of God deserves this response from those He has made His friends.

So no, I am not terribly concerned with what the world or what the broader Church will do with Jesus. Because I have already observed with my own eyes the shambles they have made of Him. Not that they have actually done anything with Him. No, instead they have built up a false Christ. They have taken Jesus, the Christ of the Bible, and so twisted and bent him that he no longer resembles what Scripture teaches of him. They have molded Him into their image instead of being shaped into His. 

So the Jesus believed in today by so many is not the real Christ and what is done with him is done with no fear of retribution. Yet the true Christ, the Christ of Scripture, is not the powerless creation of those polluted juvenile minds with pornographic visions filling pulpits in your local mega-church. He is not the limp-wristed milquetoast effeminate man that the pantywaisted liberal churches have made Him out to be. He is not this gentle “unoffendable” God who makes no demands and accepts you just as you are; and then leaves you comfortable in your culturally acceptable sins. Christ is not some purpose driven marketing exec bent on helping you fulfill your dreams. Christ is not some social justice communitarian community organizer come to change the world with his message of equality for all, contrary to wretched films such as Son of God. Not at all; not in the least. 

The true Christ of Scripture is a noble man. He is the God-man with all the power of heaven and the authority of the King of creation. He speaks and things happen. He says be still and the raging waves of the sea stop. He cries out to the oceans and they devour the evil and the land they live on. He commands legions of angels; and unlike his first advent when He willingly chose to not call on the angels to rescue Him; when He returns again this time He will come with a sword and with fire and legions of warrior angels to slaughter His enemies. He is coming to execute the vengeance of God and to bring such horrific retribution against His unrepentant enemies that when He is done the battlefield will be filled with the bodies of His enemies and the blood will flow freely (Revelation 19). This is the Jesus we are talking about.
This is the same Jesus who came and lived peacefully with the publicans and sinners and drove the religious and culturally elite from out of the temple with a whip made of leather and rocks and bits of broken pottery. Not once, but twice. This is the same Jesus who was silent before His accusers and yet cried out for their very forgiveness upon the cross that they had hung Him on.

So forgive me if I don’t seem terribly interested in what you, I or anyone else is going to do with Jesus. Here is another aspect of this thought; Jesus never asks His followers or the crowds this question either. The closest He comes is when He asks the disciples “Who do people say that I am?” The answers vary from a prophet to the resurrected John. So even back then, with Christ walking and talking with them, most people still missed it and got it twisted. Yet when Jesus asks the disciples “Ah, but who do you say that I am?” Peter replies with the only viable answer “Truly you are the Christ.” 

What more can any of us say? He is truly the Christ, The Anointed One, and the Son of the Living God! It just doesn’t matter what any of us do with Him. Make no mistake everyone will give an account for what they say about Him and what they believe about Him. But we ultimately cannot do anything with Christ. He is not ours to command or to give direction to. The better question; the question that we should be asking of others and of ourselves is this “What is Jesus going to do with you?”

For those who have bowed their knees in repentance and faith Jesus will be their Savior and their friend and He will be their rewarder. To those who have spent their lives in rebellion and war against Him; Jesus will be their judge and executioner. He will do with them as He wills. This means these rebels will suffer eternal hellfire suffering under the unmitigated unabated wrath of the Father.

This is the reality of what we have to deal with. This is the question that we should be asking everyone that we share the Gospel with. What will Jesus do with you? Any answer that we are given in reply to this question will lead us to ask “Why do you believe that? What makes you think that?” See the point is that getting the answer to the question “What will Jesus do with you?” wrong is tragic. At the end of Matthew 7 we see what this looks like. 

Jesus describes a horrible and terrifying scene for us. He tells us that at the appointed time many, not a few, not a handful, but many, will come to Him and cry out to Him “Lord Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, heal the sick in your name? Didn’t we do all sorts of great things in your name?” They come to Him making stupendous claims about what they did with Him. Yet that is not what matters. What matters is that He doesn’t know them; He never did. He casts them away from His presence into eternal judgment crying out to them “Get away from me, I never knew you; you workers of lawlessness.”

These are startling and staggering words and they come about due to a misapprehension of the Gospel. They are a result of asking the wrong things and making the wrong inferences. We have to get this right. It is imperative that we ask the right question. Literally to hell with the man-centered appeal to humanity’s personal desires. Instead we should be calling on humanity, our co-workers, our neighbors, our siblings, our parents, and even our spouses to answer the right question rightly. “What is it that Jesus will do with you?” Because in the end, what they have done with Him, reflects what they believe about Him and is indicative of what He will do with them in turn…

Soli Deo Gloria!

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