Imagine the President of the United States sitting down to eat dinner at the White House with his family. As they begin to dig into fried chicken and mashed potatoes, the dining room doors burst open and in strides a man they have never met before. As the President’s wife gasps and his children scurry behind him in alarm, the Chief Executive cries out for his guards.
“Wait! Wait!” the stranger cries out. It’s me! I know all about you! I wrote the defining book on your political career, your early life and know more about your goals as President than anyone alive on earth! I’m your biographer!”
The President’s jaw drops as the stranger begins to rattle off fact after fact about the Commander-In-Chief and his family. Every fact is true. The man knows the President’s favorite past-times, his high school athletic achievements, the location of his first date with the First Lady and even that the President experimented with marijuana in his youth!
As the secret service tackle the man and begin to drag him away, he cries out, “What are you doing? Stop! I’ve devoted every moment of my life to learning all there is about you! I have given up everything to discover what you’ve done, where you’ve gone and how you became who you are! For the love of God, stop! I want to stay here with you!”
The President steps towards the struggling man, staring into the stranger’s unfamiliar face.
“Depart from me,” the President roars. “I never knew you!”
The uninvited guest, who is wailing and gnashing his teeth, is quickly dragged from the presence of the President and taken to prison.
So it is with some attending church. They have, indeed, spent years learning about God without ever having met Him. They meditate on abstract theological ideas, intently reading scripture and engaging in long debates. They are up to date with the latest Christian literature and do good works. Above all, they avoid the appearance of evil. And yet, the love of God has not been shed abroad in their hearts. They have never been born again.
What’s worse, some who spend their lives learning about God cannot recognize the LORD when they see Him in His children. At the end, they will be like childhood bullies going to a job interview, only to discover the interviewer is someone they had afflicted in their youth. It is as if the President, looking into the eyes of his uninvited stranger, recognizes him as the high school bully who tormented him.
“If you didn’t like me as a child,” the President might say, “You’ll hate me now.”
The Apostle John asked how we can love a God we cannot see if we cannot love our brothers who we look upon every day. The Pharisees knew the Word of God but did not recognize the Word when He stood toe to toe with them. Martin Luther was a celebrated theologian who relished the thought of murdered Jews.
If you have never met the Living God of Israel, you will before much more time has passed. Has He already visited the deepest places of your heart? Do you cling to Him when you face situations that are stronger than yourself, or do you seek to save yourself? Does your heart fill with compassion and love when others suffer or are you unaware and indifferent? Do you love the truth more than your own life? Are you willing to suffer shame and loss so that someone you have never met won’t have to?
One day you will burst through the doors of heaven. You will be able to tell God all you have learned about Him. But what is it that He will be able to tell you about the time you have spent together?