Everything about him was impressive. The right clothing and hairstyle. Strong words when he taught, about things many would never fully understand. His pedgree was good - from a solid school, well respected. His wife seemed to match him in the above. And they were planting a church. Zeal and intensity always apparent in them.
But all was not well. The inside stuff was pressing towards bankruptcy...marriage was hanging by a thread. Church was going nowhere. His own moral life was in rapid decay.
Some of us sensed something was not right...and hesitated for a long time to confront him, because we just weren't sure. Seemed hard to get a hold of...yet the impression remained. Something was wrong.
When finally confronted, he broke down and was gone. And we began the process of rebuilding what he had so deeply marred.
Reading Matthew 7:15-20 this morning and was struck by the outline of the event I lived through so matching Jesus' words...sheep's clothing, Lord,Lord, prophesying, casting out demons...and yet living at a distance from Jesus. "I never knew you" is what Jesus pronounces over this person. Kind of makes it that church growth, slick sermons, and lights and bells might just not signify very much.
The mark of a life close to Jesus is the personal cultivation of good fruit..like Jesus reference to grapes and figs. And with both you've got to get really close to the plant to see it and witness the health of it. Big church...bad marriage? Something is wrong. Great oration...short temper? Something is wrong. Great appearance...no depth relationships? Something is wrong.
May God give us His gentle but piercing wisdom.
This ancient word from our Lord is timely today.