I'm not a connoisseur of wines, my repertoire consists of red or white! Within my understanding of red wine, I can not tell you the difference between merlot and pinot noir. Port on the other hand is distinctive even to the untrained and uneducated. Port was the communion wine at my home church 20 years ago, and I still remember it. Port is a rich, sweet, heavy, smooth fortified wine. Compare that with the watered down version of juice now used in communion, and the comparison is undefinable.
Does my life reflect anything remotely similar to the Christians of the early church?
Have I accepted Christ via a watered down version of what was offer by Christ Jesus himself?
What part of my life is 'taking up my cross' and following Him?
Is it possible to attend church, say the sinners prayer, to think I know Christ without actually knowing Him?
Jesus said, "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!" 2 Timothy 2:4 ESV
Harsh? Not at all, not when we read the promises of a life following Christ Jesus. Jesus doesn't want us to have a pass into heaven, he wants us to have abundant life, both now and for eternity. Sadly our version of abundant life here on earth is cluttered with stuff, useless, pointless stuff, stuff that gratifies for a second and then leaves us wanting.
Abundant life does not mean money, leadership, fame, approval. How do we know?
Well ... Jesus.
He never promoted money, Mark 10:21, "And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
He never promoted leadership, Mark 10:45, Jesus said "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
He never promoted fame, Matthew 19:30,"But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
He never promoted approval, Mark 10:34, Jesus said "And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise."
Galatians 1:10, Paul said "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."
Did I go into the bottle store to buy Port and come out with watered down juice? I wonder if we have been sold a dud, such a dud that when we get to heaven, we may be frantically recalling all the good we did;
"Lord, did I not place food in the food bank in your name? Did I not serve as usher in church in your name? Did I not attend homegroup in your name? Did I not go to church every Sunday in your name? Did I not pray for others in your name? Did I not go on short term missions in your name?"
If you are wondering what authentic faith, a rich, sweet, heavy, smooth faith looks like, then dive into Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts to see what the early Christians and early church looked like. I don't think you will find watered down faith, you will see hardship, persecution, community, sacrificing, tears, joy and dependence on the Holy Spirit. Serving Jesus will not get you the "Well done good and faithful servant... enter into the joy of your Master" Matthew 25:21. Jesus doesn't want servants, he wants children, workers, lovers, brothers, sisters, freedom fighters, prayers, givers.
I wonder if it's about time we asked that question, 'What does Jesus mean by,
Luke 14:27 "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."