One of the things that makes me smile is when someone comes up to me and asks me if I knew that some famous person was a Christian. My favorite has been: “Matt, did you know that Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony all became Christians.” For those of you that don’t remember this rap group, they sang a song called “Crossroads”, which is a nominally religious-like song about death and the afterlife (taboot with a weird music video).
Anyway, I am finding out more and more that we should be slower to call people Christians. I am not saying we pass judgment on people…give me the benefit of the doubt. What I am saying is that we wait to see if someone bears the fruit that the Bible tells us will result from a right relationship with God – love for Jesus, for Christians, for the Bible, etc. We should not be so quick to affirm someone when they say they are a Christian. How do they define “Christian”? I am going to deal with this in a series of posts (probably next week as there are a few topics I want to talk about tomorrow).
My reflection comes from my Bible reading yesterday. Jeremiah (the weeping prophet) recounts Israel’s unfaithfulness to God and tells them that they will be exiled into Babylon. The last chapter (52) recounts the fall of Israel’s beloved city, Jerusalem. It closes up the story in the book highlighted in ch. 37:2 – But neither [Zedekiah] nor his servants nor the people of the land listened to the words of the Lord that he spoke through Jeremiah the prophet. And 52:2-3 gives the result of them not heeding the voice of the Lord – And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. 3 For because of the anger of the Lord things came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence.
In Hebrew names were intended to signify a someone’s characteristic. The name “Zedekiah” means “the Lord is my righteousness”. It is extremely ironic that the king of Israel whose name meant this, is the very person who lead Israel into sinful pleasures with a proclamation of “the Lord is my righteousness”. We find here that a name does not mean that much. Much like today. Many people call themselves Christian or say they believe in God, but their lives have no evidences of saving faith – they don’t love God with their affections, they don’t enjoy reading the Bible, they find no benefit to their souls of going to church…There are a lot of churches in the United States and a lot of people have turned a deaf ear to God’s messengers, like Zedekiah and the people of Israel had done. Judgment will come on those who have been given so much but forsake the mercy of God in forsaking Gospel-preaching churches on so many street corners. For those who find more pleasure in chocolate than the sweet honey of the Word of God – For those who enjoy being seen as acceptable in men’s eyes rather than God’s – For those who enjoy buying a new suit or dress or car or house more than being satisfied in God’s all-sufficiency…Repent and seek Jesus. Take no confidence in calling yourself Christian.