Best “buying Christmas”?
Years ago when I was a teenager. I sat down and wrote a list of all those I was buying for, and against each name put “a gift type/thing”. Not a budget – it was a list of stuff I thought each person would like. Then I went shopping for only those type/things. I had a budget – a pretty meagre teenager budget – but the sums seemed to take care of themselves as I found the gifts I wanted to give. And come the day I remember the “Why thank you, Paul!” was far more sincere and enthusiastic than usual. Surprised almost.
Or maybe the response was of more interest to me than usual.
“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. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:21-27
The bit in bold was deleted from my usual daily verses. Occasionally that happens and I’m never sure why.
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
I wonder … is this about a “best buying Christmas”?
That saying “the words” and bending a knee … turning up on Sunday and putting coins in the plate … serving on the committee(s) and being busy … being a leader and
loving hating networking (for God) … That so much of all “that” is motivated by what others will think … by what is expected of their/my perceived/assumed lifestyle and income … of my (edited) career and employment status … Motivated by all that “fitting in and looking good” stuff we never like to admit aloud but which drives us so much of the time.
Because all that being busy is what we have been taught “good Christians” do. And that fits with wanting to “do” – wanting to
serve help others. We want to save souls and all that. But to do that we need to work our way up the church-life-totem-pole. And to do that we have to fit in. And to fit in …
‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
These are words I think harsh. Not really unconditional love and all that. The words should be gentle and loving. And many times in the bible they are not.
Just like many Christmases the “thank you” I got back from my giving was cursory. An obligation “thank you” – a polite “thank you” – a socially required “thank you” – a Sunday church “smile” thank you. Perhaps that is okay … what I expect … because most Christmases my gift was of the same obligation – the same “socially required” – the same duty to be fulfilled.
I never knew you.
I have said a socially required “Thank you” loads of times! But many times what I really meant was “You never knew me.”
When the gift missed by a mile. When the lack-lustre-love-object (or words or touch or gesture) was about them doing what they thought they had to rather than about me.
Tick. That will do.
You never knew me.
I think maybe these words aren’t so harsh after all. Maybe the bible is just saying what we want to say out loud. And, as always …
It’s about how I respond to hearing the unspoken spoken that really matters.