Sometimes when people learn I’m a retired missionary they get all religious on me. They tell me about their church life, the choir, the prayer group, their Christian jewelry and on and on. I met someone like this in the day room recently, and I smiled but I was not amused. I just let her go on. It was a pleasant religious veneer to an image – nothing more.
In my meetings there is no cross, no lace covering, no flowers, no printed hymnbooks, and no open prayer book. These externals may be of value to some but God isn’t looking at them – he looks at our heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
The externals do set a mood; they remind the itchy that they are in God’s house, and perhaps for some, it recalls to their minds a nicer time when they knew God better. But today, the day of salvation, the day which counts in God’s heart, is the day we should look at. In fact, the most unhappy people I know are those who look at the past, or can’t extricate themselves from it.
The bottom line is this – and perhaps we have missed it. This woman was trying to demonstrate to me that she knew Jesus. That is not what is expected of her. In fact Jesus said these words.
Matthew 7:22-24 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
(Ye is King James English for you’all.) What does this mean – we should not be casting out demons? Heavens no.
It means that our life is not in knowing Him but in Him knowing us. If He knows us it is because we have spent time with him not in the externals of religiousness and with its trappings.
Life is getting shorter for all of us. It is true that the closer you are to death the less time you have. Sounds pretty elementary but too often we think we are closer to heaven instead but NOT if we are not known to Him.
If you are, like so many people I know, not far from what my black friend calls “a dirt nap” – then we must be busy letting the Father know us. That takes a lot more effort than serving in the church kitchen.