Get Out Of Jail Free

 

A couple of weekends ago I was teaching about forgiveness. That’s a hard thing to talk through because it’s a hard thing to do… To forgive. But that’s not what this is about. If you want to hear that you can go here.

The verse I ended with that weekend is a rough one. It’s near the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 7:21-23. All of Jesus’ teachings while He was on earth were challenging… He never shied away from telling hard truths – and he rarely minced words – usually cutting to the quick. I think this passage is probably the toughest of all though because He is not talking to the “lost” – He is talking to the “followers.”

He identifies a problem for some of us. We claim to be “followers” but in fact we are “lost!” Whoa… That is heartbreaking. Now the first thing to point out in this – is this is not some threat from Jesus that was saying – “Careful that you don’t make any mistakes – because if you do… Welllll, you just might not be safe!” It’s not that at all. He’s talking to those that claim Him but never change inside. Ever known anyone like that? I wish I could say I didn’t … but of course I think we all do. I’ve known people who have claimed Christ longer than I’ve lived – and I don’t think anyone else would ever in a million years imagine that they were Christ Followers – except if they hear them make that claim verbally… and then they are confused as to that it must mean to be a Christ Follower. We all know people like that. – showing a million different traits in their day to day lives – none of which are Christ-like. Traits like greed, bitterness, hatred, anger, fear, selfishness, judging, condemning… unfortunately the list goes on and on.

Now I am not in a position – nor is anyone else – to judge who is or is not “saved.” Thankfully – that is between each of us and God. But it is easy to see what Jesus was talking about. Us just saying we KNOW HIM is not enough. There are some who will claim Him their whole life and will still hear those words from Him one day – “I never knew you; depart from me…” Let me tell you something right here… You already know … deep down inside… if this is you or not. I promise you – it’s the kind of thing you need to trust your gut – or better yet, your heart with. Again – I’m NOT talking about the person who has a guilty conscience about every wrong you have ever committed. Don’t read this and start to wonder – “Oh my gosh… I think there was a test I looked on someone else’s paper in the 8th grade and I never asked for forgiveness!!! I am lost!!! Whoa is me!!!” Just stop it. You know what I am talking about when I say search your heart. I’m talking about whether or not you live a life lived consistently in the footsteps of Christ. Just like it says in 1 John2:6, “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

Jesus wasn’t talking about us being perfect. Of course we can’t be – we are human – completely imperfect. It’s all about where our hearts are. Do we strive to pursue Him – or do we pursue our own desires – hoping for a death be confession which I have always called the “Get Out Of Jail Free” card approach. We carry it around in our wallet ready to cash it in when the time comes. It’s a dangerous way to go guys. As you know – the game sometimes ends and you never got to play that card. I lived a great deal of my life that way – believing it was enough to claim Him and still pursuing my own way. Had I kept pursuing that… I am sure that my conversation with Him one day – would not have been one I enjoyed. But thankfully – I do know Him and He knows me. And that forgiveness I taught about a couple of weeks ago is very real for me – an unlikely pastor – and I pray it is for you too. Keep pursuing Him with reckless abandon and throw your Get Out Of Jail Free card away.

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