Anticipation is a word in our language that has only one meaning, but confers many different emotions when spoken in context, for this particular letter I have chosen only two of those emotions, excitement and dread. The dentist office, believe it or not, can produce excitement for the person who is finally going to get that tooth fixed that has been bothering them, but dread in another, for past memories of pain are easily remembered when they pass through those doors.
I recently experienced both of these emotions when the anticipation of attending a short training seminar required of me by my place of employment drew near, for the individual that was responsible for the presentation I had met three times before over the same number of years. As I begin to explain the circumstances, you will understand why both of these emotions where anticipated by me, I just had no clear idea which one to expect.
The first time I came in contact with this individual was also at a small group meeting it was necessary for me to attend, and at that time I heard him use two words, ‘blessed’ and ‘pray’ during his presentation, and while I cannot recall the exact context that each of these separate words were used in, it peaked my interest, for these are not words that one normally hears in such a setting. During the lunch break I approached him and we struck up a conversation, and as is my nature, I brought up items pertaining to Scripture and of our Lord, and was thrilled to find this man professing a faith in Christ, even speaking about attending a function that a well-known radio preacher had held in a large city not far from either of our places of residence, one that my lovely wife and I had also attended. Although we were both unaware of each other’s presence at that particular event, the time we spent over lunch was a good conversation and at times uplifting.
At our next encounter this man who is in his early sixties, happened to be at the place where I work discussing business with my immediate supervisor. I was finishing up a task near them and happened to hear some of the conversation that they were enjoined in, and was very surprised at what I heard, words not normally spoken in casual conversation by one who has professed Christ. As I was leaving for the day, I noticed him walking to his vehicle and so I approached him, and after the initial niceties, I questioned him about some of his language and a few other items I had noticed. Of this encounter I have written briefly in a previous letter to you, so I will not burden you with it again, for it is the third encounter I wish to speak on, and it is an appropriate opening discussion on the subject of anticipation.
As I stated, both excitement and dread where within me when the time came for the meeting to begin. This one was with a much larger group, as so I felt it inappropriate to approach this man before it started, letting him concentrate on his subject matter and the other items necessary before he began his presentation. I am sorry to say that my anticipation quickly fell to the border of dread, not in a sense of terror, but of almost a great sadness, for by the end of the three hours many curse words, a few dirty jokes, and even the word ‘holy’ followed by different swear words had been uttered from him, and the longer he spoke, the more downcast my countenance became within me, and the more fearful for him I became. I did not seek him out after the meeting, perhaps I should have, I do not know, but there were two times during his presentation that impacted me the most, are the cause for this letter to you.
In both of these incidences he became very adamant as he described individuals that he had met over the years that had professed to be one thing, but in reality were actually the exact opposite. He called these people ‘fakes’ and became very upset and disturbed that anyone would be that way, for he said that it was one of the things in his life that was the most annoying to him. I use this incident here not to disparage this man, for he will stand accountable to God either soon, or at the great white throne of judgement, only God knows, I can judge only by the word of God, and then only by the words and actions of others, for it is by these that the children of God are known.
I wonder, how many people do you know that are only “Christians” when they are in the company of other Christians, how many individuals have you met that know seem to know all the right words, sing all the songs, put something in the plate as it passes by, but when you have noticed them in gatherings where they presume they are not surrounded by true believers, they are difficult to differentiate from the lost. Their language changes to fit in, their character and demeaner are changed, and the only thing you recognize of them is their face and perhaps their clothing.
I submit to you here that there is no such thing as a carnal Christian, no one who is saved and desiring to serve the Lord Jesus continues of their own free will to continually seek either the things of this world or the praise of men, no believer in Christ tries to fit into this world, (Rom. 8:7) no obedient servant desires to leave a legacy or treasure here on earth, (Matt. 6:19) no one who is a child of God seeks dual citizenship with this earth and heaven, but has relinquished all inheritance to this place, and seeks only for the kingdom of heaven and the glory of God. I would not have even brought this particular incident to your attention if the man I was informing you of had not seemed so normal, so at ease in both his speech and demeaner, he was not trying to fit in to his perceived notion of what these in attendance wanted, he was not acting, he was as he is, and if he spoke and behaved as he did at this meeting and the other time I mentioned, I know of no place worthy to be called a house of God where he would be welcomed for long.
I have no right to say if these types of individuals are saved or not, but I cannot see, nor will I ever understand the longsuffering of our Lord for individuals who say they are Christians, yet act in such a manner on a regular basis. There was a time in my life that I returned to my own vomit, (Prov. 26:11) sought again the pleasure of sin, (Heb. 11:25) and the praise of men, and by Gods great mercy I was given another chance, in truth, in my own mind and spirit, I was told by our Lord that it was my last chance, and if I did not listen and become obedient this time, He would end my life here and bring me home to glory, and inform me face-to-face of why my chosen desire to walk away from Him was not the best plan of action on my part. I believe with all my heart that if God had decided to kill me then, I would have still gone to heaven, for no one can lose their salvation, but I would have lost all of my rewards up to that time, I doubt very much that I would have even heard “Welcome,” probably just a “Hello” from the angels, and in no way would I have heard “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” (Matt. 25:21) and worst of all, I would have had nothing to lay at His feet on that day.
This is why I feel so much sorrow for the type of people that I have brought your attention to in this letter, this is why many of my letters to you concern those who say they are saved, who say they are Christians, those who only do the ‘walk and the talk’ when they are around other Christians. So many of these will hear the words of Matthew 7:22 and in that day they will know that they were deceiving themselves, and finally have to admit to that truth. Others though will walk into the kingdom ashamed, embarrassed, and smelling like smoke. (1st Cor. 3:15)
What our Lord Jesus Christ did for us is worth everything we are, all the time, no matter who we are around, no matter the circumstances. When you fail, repent and ask for strength, when that strength comes, abide in it, but if you seek the praise of men, no matter in what form, all your rewards will be here, and they will be left here when you go home. Your citizenship of heaven will not be stripped from you, but you will find no treasure awaits you there. Where does your ambition really rest.
God knows your heart, do you?