“Yeah, I’m pretty much a movie star now,” I said jokingly to my friends as we entered the theater to see the new film “The Visitor” for the first time. “I’m close personal friends with the star, Richard Jenkins.” Truth is, I had a great opportunity to be on the set of this film for a whole day. I got to see the ins and outs of a working set, I got to hang out at craft services, I even had the opportunity to chat with the star of the film for a few moments between takes. Was I lead character? Not by a long shot. My job was to walk around and not say anything. I was simply a background player or extra, just one step above a stage prop. However, I was grateful for the experience and so excited to see the final product. After which, the joke was that I would get to sit next to Richard Jenkins at the Oscars (he ended up being nominated for his performance) because we had become such great friends during production. Lucky me!
Yet, I bet that if I was to run into Mr. Jenkins sometime, he would have no clue who I am. Sure, we exchanged a few words but we don’t truly know each other. I may think I know him, but he would say that he does not know me. If he was walking down my street, I might call out “Hey, I know you. Come join us for dinner.” But if he saw me walking down his street, nothing. Get the picture?
One of the scariest verses to me in the Bible is not the “fire and brimstone” passages some people may think of; no, I think one of the scariest passages is Matthew 7:21-23. These three sentences scare me because in them, Jesus points out a hard reality for us to swallow, namely, that there are many people who believe that they know Jesus and are following Him, when the truth is quite the opposite. “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’” These people claim all of this service to Jesus, and what is His response? “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Why does this scare me? Because of the false hope that numerous individuals have: because they have been deceived or are self-deceived, they will never seek to truly come know Jesus. I fear for their eternal destiny.
I don’t know the actor Richard Jenkins. I met him once, but I don’t know him. However, the important question is, “Do you truly know Jesus, and does He know you?” I don’t want you to go about your life with a false hope. I don’t want you to die and stand before the holy Judge without Christ as your advocate. So I would like to encourage you to question yourself right now. You see, in our modern American church we tell people to look back to their baptism, or the time they walked the aisle, we tell people not to question their standing with God because they’ve prayed the “sinner’s prayer”, they’ve been attending church, they even read their Bible from time to time. However, the Bible says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
This may be a good place to start:
1. Do you hold fast to your confidence in Christ as your savior? Or does it depend on who you are with? (Hebrews 3:6)
2. Do you desire to live in obedience to God and His word in faith and morals? Or do you follow the whims of the flesh and the norms of culture? (Luke 6:46)
3. Are you growing in holiness and purity as the Spirit works in you? Or are you enslaved by the flesh? (1 John 3:3)
4. Do you desire to display the fruit of the Spirit which is, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Or would you be better characterized by the works of the flesh? (Galatians 5:19-23)
5. Do you desire to be with God’s people? Is being part of the local church a priority? Or do you think that church is optional? (1 John 3:14, Hebrews 10:25)
Examine yourself while there is still time. Don’t go through life with a false hope! At the same time, don’t think that if you can follow a list (like the one above) that that will make you right with God. No, testing yourself is a means of revealing your heart to yourself. No one else can do this for you. However, if you fail the test (as Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 13:5) your only hope is to call out to God. Humble yourself before God, recognize your failings, and then trust in Christ alone. Then come to truly know Him through His holy inspired word, the Bible. “This is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ