Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Intimacy and Obedience

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).

Toward the end of Luke’s version of Jesus’ sermon, he records a probing question from the lips of our Lord. In Matthew’s version of this sermon, we find a more extended statement along the same lines: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 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 perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” (Matthew 7:21–23).

We might miss the strength of these statements unless we realize that repeating a person’s name is a Hebrew expression of intimacy. When God speaks to Abraham at Mount Moriah, as he is about to plunge the knife into the breast of Isaac, He says, “Abraham, Abraham.” Or when God encourages Jacob in his old age to take the trip to Egypt, He says, “Jacob, Jacob” (Genesis 22:11; 46:2).

Compare the call of Moses from the burning bush: “Moses, Moses,” or the call of Samuel in the night, “Samuel, Samuel” (Exodus 3:4; 1 Samuel 3:10). Or consider David’s cry of agony, “Absalom, Absalom,” and Jesus’ cry of desolation on the cross, “My God, my God” (2 Samuel 18:33; Matthew 27:46). When Jesus comforted Martha, when He warned Peter, and when He wept over Jerusalem—in each case we find the word repeated for intimacy’s sake (Luke 10:41; 22:31; Matthew 23:37).

Some pretend to have a deep relationship with Christ, but this claim is not borne out in their lives. There are many who say, “Lord, Lord,” while in fact, they live in contempt for Christ’s commandments. “If you love me, you will obey what I command,” said Jesus (John 14:15).

God does not accept those who merely hear. He requires obedience. He does not accept a profession from the lips but demands also a commitment to submit and obey.

Often we talk as if we are closer to God than we really are. How much of this is mere “Lord, Lord” talk? Ask yourself seriously: Do my lips run ahead of my life? Am I projecting a relationship with Christ that I don’t really enjoy?