Are You Name-Dropping Jesus?

In the late 1960s through the 1970s, Andre Crouch was the king of Gospel music. While racial tensions were high during those turbulent times, Andre traversed the boundaries with ease. Musicians who either worked with Crouch or performed with him included Elvis Presley, Billy Preston, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson.

In the mid-1980s, a woman at my church announced she was engaged to Andre. She reserved our church building, asked my senior pastor to officiate, sent out invitations, and excitedly shopped for dresses with her bridesmaids. Because Andre was such a high profile personality with a busy schedule, she told the pastor that he would show up in time for the ceremony.

On the day of the wedding, family and friends packed the church sanctuary, anticipating a glorious event. The bridesmaids doted on the cheery bride.

And they waited for Andre to arrive.

They waited and waited while the congregation grew increasingly agitated and concerned.

Finally, my senior pastor met with the bride privately.

“Do you have any idea where Andre might be?”

“I have no idea,” she responded. “That’s just not like him.”

Unfortunately, the bride didn’t have Andre’s phone number with her, so the pastor decided to do a little investigative work on his own. Finally, he was able to locate his phone number (this pastor was very well-connected!). So he dialed the number.

“Hello?”

“Yes, is this Andre Crouch?”

“Yes it is.”

“This is Charles Blair and I pastor a church in Denver, Colorado. A woman in my congregation asked me to perform her wedding ceremony this afternoon, and you’re the man she’s supposed to be marrying. Do you know [woman’s name]?”

“Pastor,” Andre replied. “I don’t know who you’re talking about. I don’t know that woman nor have I ever heard of her in my life.”

The woman, with obvious mental health issues, was all dressed up with no place to go.

That true story has haunted me for nearly thirty years. The troubled woman was name-dropping a person who didn’t know her. She talked a good game. She looked the part. But in the end, Andre Crouch never knew her.

Are You Name-Dropping Jesus?

In Matthew 7, Jesus describes the day of judgment when seemingly godly people stand before him. “Lord, in your name we prophesied, we cast out demons, and performed many miracles. Surely that’s enough.”

But Jesus replies, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (see Matthew 7:22-23)

You can hang a cross around your neck, wear a WWJD bracelet, go to church (when it fits your schedule!), be a good citizen and vote in every election, even throw some change in the offering–but if you don’t know Jesus, then you’re nothing more than a name-dropper. A poser.

In the verse immediately preceding this passage, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” This passage points to three truths:

Doing good deeds isn’t enough. Prophesying, casting out demons, and performing miracles required the power of God. At a minimum, these people were trying to help people. But they fell short.

Doing good deeds cannot be equated with doing the will of God. Obviously, according to Jesus, they’re different.

Knowing Jesus and doing God’s will go together. Neither survives alone, but it begins with knowing God.

A common ailment among many believers is what I call “virtual Christianity.” We talk so much about something that we convince ourselves we’re doing it. We do it with prayer, giving, community, etc.

We also do it in our relationship with Jesus.

Don’t just talk about Jesus. Know him.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Are You Name-Dropping Jesus?

  1. Michael this is a very good blog most needed in our day and time. I was for 20 years one of these that you bloged about having repeated a prayer at 12 of the SB pastor was baptised did all the church said I should do sang in the choir, taught SS, worked in Childrens church went on visitation and led others to the Lord using the Romans road plan that we were taught. During a tour of duty in England an American Evanglist came to preach a revival. It was then that his sermon entitled ” Coke is the real thing, Christ is the real thing do you profess Him or do you Possess Him.” I thought what is the differece. He then went on to quote Satan believes and trembles is that all you have. Wow I had to admit that was all I had was a belief and works but lacked the most important -a walking day to day relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.Not realizing that I could actually talk to God and through the Holy Spirit feel Him and experince Him in a real intimate way. My fear is there are so many well meaning churches of all denomintaions but they are mostly teaching easy believism and works/grace salvation. Leaving out that one must have a living, repenting, walking moment by moment relationship with the Lord, other wise on that day HE will say sorry I never knew you depart for I never knew you. Until then had I died I would have gone to hell but I am grateful for a young man and many others that helped me to understand there is a difference between religion and relationship. I hope if you have other bloggers and they read this they might also search their hearts and ask that very important question of themselves where do I stand when I stand before Christ.

  2. Georgie-ann

    Hard-hitting. Truth. Our culturally conditioned habits — (with plenty of “educational”-commentary and incessant media-“reporting” driven help), of chewing-up and spitting-out so-called “facts”, analyzing and focusing-on bizarre tid-bits of information (over and over again), readily spouting-out a “justified personal opinion” without ever being asked for it (or needing to verify it), being caught up in a “perpetual wave” of verbal droning on and on, with no pauses to contemplate the relative importance or actual significance of “it all,” — have left us intellectually jammed-up and over-dosed, spiritually dry and undiscerning, no more aware of the actual reality that faces us than a fish choosing a “lure” over a worm, and oblivious of the hook in either one.

    Our culture seems to be designed to distract us from something. (Could it be “Reality”?) We can “learn all about” things: view them
    electronically, chart data, write compositions, make claims, even “scientific” ones, all without ever really touching or “knowing” that thing for real for ourselves. We been taught to “go on” everybody else’s suggestions, and to repeat them! We have an “illusion” about understanding. It is entirely possible to “think we know” what an elephant is, without ever being in the presence of a real living elephant to “feel its vibes”, touch, smell, feed it, and so on, to make an actual interactive relationship with it.

    It’s “too easy” to fall into the same trap about God. The Bible tells us that Creation itself testifies of the reality of God and His Majesty:

    Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

    It would seem from this, that we could/should consider the reality of God to be “self-evident!” But God has also given us His messengers (prophets) and His Word, and even His Son, to teach us about Himself and draw us closer to Himself, to make a relationship with us! Are we “paying attention” at a real and listening level? Are we making room for an intimate acquaintance? Are we making choices that will truly and willingly glorify Him? Are we willing and desirous of learning and doing His Will? Or are we surrounded by a bubble of “personal and cultural smog, self-serving convenience, rationalization, and self-satisfaction,” that deflects real “knowing” and real connection and real obedience and real love?

    Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.”

    Psalm 50:6 “Let the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is Judge. Selah”

    Psalm 97:6 “The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples see His glory.”

    God will surely “have the last word” as to “how it all works out.” Since we cannot save ourselves, or even each other (no matter how “well-intentioned” we are), — we simply lack the “power” and authority to do so! — we need to respect and pray and “give witness to the Gospel” to the end that each and everyone ” … work out (their) own salvation … ” (Philippians 2:12).

    1 Peter 1:19 “But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.”

    A great personal sacrifice. A great personal redemption made available.

    Matthew 25:1-13 [The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins]

    1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

    6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

    11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

    13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

    As the song declares: “Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning!”

    • How true, Georgie-ann. We substitute information for relationship. Knowing about Jesus rather than knowing Jesus. Reading your post, I was struck by the fact that relationships come at a cost: time, work, vulnerability and risk. But the fruit of the sacrifice is so worth it!

      • Georgie-ann

        in a relationship, we have to “make room” for the other being,… we have to acknowledge their existence and be concerned about their disposition,… we can’t be the “center” of everything that we feel pertains to us,…

        btw,… I’m a grandma x2 as of last evening,… all is well,… thanks be to God!

      • Georgie-ann

        Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].”

        I just woke up thinking of this verse!,… and also, wondering what the “oil” signifies in the parable of the lamps of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25) above,… Could it be our genuine faith (including tangible hope and trust and love) that actually links us to God (and to each other)?,… that gives “reality” and “knowing” to our “forms” of religion/worship (the lamps?), which may contain spiritual substance/reality, or not,…

      • Georgie-ann

        It could also pertain to “having faith” in the right things (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, love, mercy, right judgment),… as there are obviously other (self-righteous) “faith” obsessed/driven groups (even cults) in the world, that are on a very different kind of “zealous” (false faith) mission/tangent:

        Romans 10:2 “I bear them witness that they have a [certain] zeal and enthusiasm for God, but it is not enlightened and according to [correct and vital] knowledge.”

        2 Corinthians 8:7 “Now as you abound and excel and are at the front in everything–in faith, in expressing yourselves, in knowledge, in all zeal, and in your love for us–[see to it that you come to the front now and] abound and excel in this gracious work [of almsgiving] also.”

  3. Georgie-ann

    Real freedom, and spiritual joy and awareness, await our breaking out of (or breaking through) our commonly experienced (and isolating, and maybe even monotonous!) bubbles of self-preservation and egoism, that not only come very naturally to us, but are culturally reinforced and catered to in many ways. No one really wants to “rock the boat” of the “personality” of someone else. So “status quo” very often just prevails,… as is.

    Trouble is,… “status quo” — although easy enough to perpetuate — isn’t really “going anywhere” and is full of its own problems. It’s simply more and more obvious that, in spite of their active minds and plentiful theories and some agreed-upon (so-called) “ideals,” humans are really unable to “save themselves.” Perhaps their greatest problems come from their own “unsaved” wills, that eventually seem to “drive” them inevitably “at cross-purposes” to one another,… if for no other reason than the “satisfaction” of being rebellious:

    1 Samuel 15:23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”

    (How many people can you think of whose “personal reactions” to confrontation might not be more than a little intimidating to you? I’m pretty sure it’s not many!)

    So, we really cannot look to ourselves, or one another, for our own Salvation (from this “mess”). Jesus is so much more than a name to drop,… He’s our willing and authentic Savior,… His “personal mission” is to be our way out of a problem we’ll never solve on our own,… The sooner we give our lives to Him, the better for us all,…

  4. Georgie-ann

    edit (1): “We’ve been taught,… ”

    & concerning how we are “justified” before God:

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11
    9 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. … 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

    this is really our only hope,…

  5. Nancy

    Shame on you for trying to make this person an example of some sort. The one you should be making an example of is the senior pastor at that point in time (Mr. Blair). I have nothing more to say.

    • Nancy, I’m sorry that you took offense at the example. You must be familiar with the story (or perhaps you witnessed the tragic event). Obviously, you must be angry at the officiating pastor. I knew him fairly well and witnessed first-hand his shortcomings. He wasn’t perfect by any means, but he wasn’t a crook.

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