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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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