As I reflect on the past several days I have come to the conclusion that I am on a journey. I know I’ve started to move, but I’m unsure where this journey will take me. The journey is an attempt to be a more committed follower of Jesus Christ. Last week as I preached from Mark 7:1-23, I became more and more convicted of my place as a follower of Jesus Christ, as a pastor, as a husband and as a father. I came to the conclusion that often we raise people up to be church members and forget to encourage their personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
I realize that I want my children to be the best of society and so much more than what I am. I know that I want my wife to know I love her without having to telling her in an attempt to cover up my inadequacy. And I am deeply grieved with the prospect that I may have sent people to hell in my attempt to lead them to Christ. I know I don’t have that all surpassing power to either save or condemn a person, but how often have I presented a barrier to Christ because I made someone think involvement in the church is the same thing as salvation.
This thought process started as a simple question during our Wednesday Bible study about what Jesus meant in Matthew 7:21-23, “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. 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.’” (ESV) How often, with good intentions, do we forget that the first mission of the church is to lead people to Christ and to make disciples? While my introspection may seem harsh to you, I am still convicted in my heart that the local assembly, the church, has kept as many people out of the kingdom as it has ushered in. As a pastor I realize I must repent of this behavior. While I am confident in the assurance of my salvation, have I preached or communicated in a way that has given some one false hope. Do we make those on the fringe feel like insiders with our words, deeds and assumptions when in reality they have never made the decision to follow Christ in all his ways?
I must clarify, this is not a matter of judgment or any silliness of exclusiveness. Rather we must constantly remind ourselves that our salvation is a daily occurrence as we grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ.
In Christ Service and HOPEFULLY likeness!