“I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to Me, declares the Lord, that they might be for Me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen” (Jeremiah 13:11b ESV).
The last few words of that verse are convicting. Because they didn’t listen, the Israelites were exiled from the Promised Land for many years. Though they were still God’s people, they were not bringing Him praise and glory through their actions, words, and worship. Interestingly, the New Testament authors use similar phrasing regarding who we are as Christians:
“[Christ] gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
We belong to God and we bear His name. We are meant to represent Him through purity, good works, proclaiming His Word, and glorifying Him. We are to walk in His light so that we may stand out from this dark world. But are we doing any better than Judah and Israel were back in Jeremiah’s time? Do we show ourselves to be “set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:20)?
Living in the Bible belt, I know a lot of nice, moral people, but the number of people who are clearly living for the glory of God is a lot lower. People can mistakenly assume that someone who is kind and decent must be Christian. We may also believe that someone who attends church functions on a regular basis is therefore a Christian, but that may not be true either. The ESV Bible titles Romans 12:9-21 “Marks of the True Christian,” but even in that list of instructions there is little that could not be imitated by non-Christians. Consider the following verses (emphasis added):
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:14-15).
“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).
“But whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked” (1 John 2:5-6).
Charles Spurgeon wrote in Following Christ:
“If we add to our churches by becoming worldly or by taking in people who have never been born again, or if we add to our churches by accommodating the life of the Christian to the life of the people of the world, our increase is nothing at all” (ch. 7).
I fear that there are many people sitting in church pews or listed on church rolls who have no idea what it really means to be a Christian. They may call themselves Christians, but they do not truly bear the name of Christ by living for His glory and praise. They have no desire for holiness or for the kingdom of God, but think that being a nice person is all the witness they need to give.
Let’s make sure we truly belong to Him.
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? –unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
© 2019 Dawn Rutan. Original image copyright free from pixabay.com modified. The opinions stated do not necessarily reflect the views of my church or employer.