“[In] the Sermon on the Mount…Jesus depicts a scene before the throne on the judgment day. A group of people appear there and say, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Obviously these were serious, dedicated disciples. Their lives had been spent doing ‘God things.’ But Jesus replies to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers’ (Mt 7:22-23 NRSV). Their lives, their ministries, were not grounded in a loving union with Christ. They were religious false selves. They were so busy being in the world for God that they failed to be in God for the world. There is a great difference between these two ways. A religious false self will expend amazing amounts of energy and resources to be in the world for God. But you see, we are called to be in God for the world, and this is costly. It requires the abandonment of the whole self-referenced structure of our false self and, especially, the religious false self. Oswald Chambers says it well: “Salvation is not merely deliverance from sin, nor the experience of personal holiness; the salvation of God is deliverance out of self entirely into union with Himself.” (Mulholland, M. Robert. The Deeper Journey. Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006, p. 47-48.)
“They were so busy being in the world for God that they failed to be in God for the world.” Ouch! I wonder how much Christian leadership operates on the basis of “for God” rather than “in God” as Mulholland describes the difference. I’ve found that it is easy to use even ministry as a means of reinforcing my false sense of identity formed through achievement or accomplishment, rather than growing in an identity received as gift in union with a loving heavenly Father.
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