Confessions of a former, former Christian

Knowing

If you’ve been around church circles very long, you’ve probably heard of this hypothetical conversation that happens at the entrance to heaven when you’re trying to get in. It usually seems to be step 1 or 2 of some five step witnessing method. It basically goes something like this. If you died tonight, and Jesus is standing at the door to heaven saying “Why should I let you in to my heaven?” what would you tell him? And you’re supposed to say something along the lines of, “Because Jesus died on the cross for my sins and made it possible for me to come in”. At that point, I guess bells and sirens go off and confetti flies like you just won “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and Jesus congratulates you for getting the answer right and lets you in.

I haven’t died yet, so I can’t be sure, but I’m pretty certain this conversation is never going to happen.

However, there are 2 conversations recorded in the bible that ARE going to happen, and they have both, honest to God, haunted me since I was young.

The first conversation is commonly known as the Sheep and the Goats from Matthew 25. It’s a big one to me, but not the one I want to focus on right now.

The second conversation is in Matthew 7 and has been on my mind heavily for the last few months. I’m paraphrasing, but basically Jesus says many people will say to him on that day “Hey, it’s me! I did stuff for you, right?” and Jesus says back, “Away from me, I never knew you.”

That’s the phrase that has kept me up at night- “I never knew you”. I’ve had so many discussions with people about what makes a Christian, what gets you saved, and if you’re “saved”, can you ever be “unsaved”, and on and on. I know all the issues with what you have to believe, what you have to confess, grace vs. works, and on and on.

But I can tell you, if it can be prayed, I prayed it. If it can be believed, I believed it, if it can be confessed, I confessed it. At some point in my life, usually multiple times to just be sure (safety in redundancy, right?), I’ve done everything that can be done to make sure I’m covered when it comes to the salvation department. Many have told me that it’s all good. No matter what I do from here on out, I’m in, I’m covered, heaven is mine and I can’t lose it.

Nothing has ever felt more untrue.

I may be way off, but I know in my gut in spite of my spoken commitments, my spiritual flirtations and blow-off’s, that if I were, in fact, looking Jesus in the eye right now saying, “Hey it’s me” he would say “We don’t know each other”, and he would be absolutely right. I don’t know him.

The best parallel I can think of right now is Facebook. If you’re on it, you know you’ve gotten friend requests from those people who you barely remember from college, high school, or that first job 4 careers ago. You think, “Well, I remember you… sort of. Your name rings a bell, I think I remember what you look like” but you don’t know them.

I didn’t know him. We did not have a relationship. We were nothing more than entries on each other’s friends list.

To me, this is simple. And frightening.

Jesus calls us to be followers. Followers follow. If you’re not following, you’re not a follower. Following is an ongoing action. You’re not a follower if you once followed. When you’re following, you’re part of the group. Jesus turns around and there you are because you’re keeping up and you’re right there, and he says, “Hey it’s you, yeah, you’re part of my group.” But if you’re not following, then you show up one day and say, “Hey it’s me” and he says, “You’re not with me, this is my group, I don’t know you.”

It may be nothing more than my opinion, but anyone who tells people, “Because of what you did once, you’re all set” is killing them. That’s nothing more than cover to make people feel like they’re secure when they’re not.

It’s become very clear to me that I don’t know him. He doesn’t know me. He’s not going to ask me a question at the gate of heaven and if I get it right, I’m in. I’ve known the answers for years, but knowing doesn’t matter. He’s not going to check my beliefs, my confessions, my prior commitments. He’s going to say “Hey, it’s you, c’mere”. Or he’s going to say “I don’t know you.”

I know this conversation is coming. The bible tells me so. If, knowing this conversation is coming, I’m not ready for it, I’m an idiot.

Now, how exactly do you follow? That is the million dollar question. But at least now I want to know.

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January 5, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments