Christ can tell who's faking it


For the Mirror

I wonder sometimes just how many religious denominations claim the name of Jesus Christ.

If one looks in the telephone book, there are literally dozens and dozens of different Christian denominations. So I can’t help but think it begs the question: If Jesus Christ were with us in the flesh today, just who would he call one of his followers?

In Nazi Germany, there was a small religious movement which claimed the name of Christ, and at the same time believed in the same national socialism the Nazis did. John A. Moses writes in a review of Doris L. Bergen’s book, “The Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich,” that “their project was to ‘arianise’ both Holy Scripture and the person of Jesus Christ, in short, to rid traditional Christianity of all putatively Jewish components.” So in other words, Nazis could visit this church, feel right at home and have their consciences put at ease, and then go out the next day to exterminate who knows how many people of Jewish ancestry. Then they could return home with a deceived heart, believing it was just all in a day’s work.

Then on the other hand, let’s take a glimpse at the life of a young Jewish teenage girl named Anne Frank who went into hiding with her family in the early 1940s to escape imprisonment by the Nazis As far as what is known about her life, she never claimed to profess a belief in the name of Jesus. But it appears she did have a pure and loving heart.

And that doesn’t mean she simply followed a bunch of rules or just tried to be good. But rather, she appeared to have a deep and abiding love for God and was truly committed to developing the godly attributes of kindness, humility, forgiveness and honesty that are essential for true love to flourish. In other words, without necessarily claiming his name, it appears she was following the way and spirit of Christ without even realizing it. Because what he taught was most certainly about loving God and living a pure and humble life of righteousness as we reach out with love to others.

So if Christ were walking the streets of Amsterdam and came across the Nazis as they were dragging Anne and her family from their hideout, who would he be more inclined to think was following “His way” –– the Nazis who “worshiped” him in church the previous Sunday, or Anne? And which of them would more likely be with God in heaven right now?

If Christ were with us in the flesh today, who would he call his followers? How would he separate the sheep from the goats? Only those who claim his name? Or instead, would he be more inclined to look at our heart attitude and know who was truly committed to following his way, and who was not?

I don’t think he would expect anyone to actually be perfectly righteous yet, but he would know if they were committed to the cause and were sincerely pursuing it. If they were, isn’t it just possible he would consider them as a believer in him and consider his sacrifice on the cross as enough to cover their sins, past and future? If they were faking it and their pursuit was only a pretense, I wonder if he would be inclined to say, “Depart from me; I never knew you.”

So, in the end, who will Christ consider to be one of his when he returns? Will it be you?

Larry Ebaugh is a Des Moines resident and the widowed parent of two adult children.

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