Last Sunday we gathered round the table. We prayed. And we checked in, getting to hear what it means to walk humbly with God. It was insightful. The first comment might have been that examples come to mind of when we have not done this well (which of course brought a knowing chuckle from most of us). There also was question, what is it to walk with God — you know what do we mean exactly…to live our lives in a way that God desires….a helpful word mentioned was to obey God… We talked about how we were raised, how we saw humility modeled; we discussed how the key might be that in walking humbly with God we are comparing (ourselves) with God — not with others — which IS a rather humbling experience, and is a most necessary perspective shift. We also discussed that if you try to “win” at being humble, well — you’ve missed the mark (the heart) of humility. We also touched upon how humility is not false modesty — a denial of gifts and talents — but perhaps a true understanding of identity in Christ, a honest awareness of what God has given (gifted) each of us with.
And with many round the table we turned to Scripture, specifically to Matthew 7:21-23:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (New International Version)
21 “Not all who sound religious are really godly people. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but still won’t get to heaven. For the decisive question is whether they obey my Father in heaven.22 At the Judgment many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we told others about you and used your name to cast out demons and to do many other great miracles.’23 But I will reply, ‘You have never been mine. Go away, for your deeds are evil.’ (The Living Bible)
We sat with this scripture for some time. It was quickly named that this text is sad. To imagine being turned away by God, to imagine the weight of such a thing. Someone around the table mentioned it is more sad than “Jesus wept.” Imagine hearing God say, “Go away, you evildoer” or “I never knew you — go away your deeds are evil!” It is an interesting Scripture to read after focusing on walking humbly with God. This text however, was offered in conjunction with a second, Romans 10:8-11,
8 This is what the Scripture says: “God’s teaching is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.” That is the teaching of faith that we tell. 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from death, then you will be saved. 10 We believe with our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we declare with our mouths to say that we believe, and so we are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disappointed.” (International Children’s Bible)
This Scripture is more hopeful, and simple — believe and be saved. And in the (possible) tension of the two perhaps we hear the fullness of the gospel message both the deep sadness of being told by God we never belonged & hearing the simple gift of the fullness of the love of God understood in the gift of grace offered in Christ that in believing/trusting/accepting Jesus as Lord — Jesus as raised from death — that we have been reconciled with God forever! And we talked a little bit about the idea of God knowing all (the doctrines of predestination & double predestination) — HUGE topics (of which I’ll mention how only God knows who belong to God, who walk humbly with God, who profess & believe — only God — we don’t see with God’s eyes or know with God’s Spirit….meaning we don’t know who belongs to God, who walks with God, who is part of large “C” Church and who is nt….).
And so we came to homework time, which is this — reconcile these two scriptures (if needed). Asked differently, what do these two selections of Scripture mean together? How do you understand them?
Looking forward to the next time we gather round the table y’all.
In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater