I recently decided to sort through old papers. In a folder that dates back to my university days, I found a note that made me burst out laughing. It said: “Dear Maggie. I love you. Let’s run away together. Love Justin Timberlake.”
Lest you think I have led an extremely interesting life, I’ll give you the back story. One year, I lived in a house with four friends. Sometimes we would write each other funny little notes in the name of males that we thought were attractive. One of them must have written this one, and I’ve kept it for all these years.
Finding the note got me thinking about what would happen if decades from now, after I am gone, someone were to find it. How would they know that it’s not real? They would probably start by checking the signature and handwriting. Then they might look at my diaries from university and see if there is any mention of a secret relationship with a boy band member. They could study my character and Justin Timberlake’s to see if we seem like the kind of people who would carry on an illicit affair. I am sure that it would not take a lot of work to figure out that I never had a personal relationship with the singer. I’ve never even met him.
Moving away from Justin, let’s talk about Jesus for a minute. A lot of people claim to know Him. They supposedly know what He would say or do in a given situation. Sometimes they are adamant that they speak for Him. They may be pastors, public speakers, politicians, or people who go door to door. They might even be bloggers like me. J So how do we know who is speaking for God, and who is just a fake?
One difference is that while we won’t always have Justin Timberlake around to verify claims, we will always have God. He is with us today and tomorrow. We can ask him to show us who is speaking the truth. We also have God’s Word, which is like His handwriting that we can match with whatever is being said in His name. However, to do this, we can’t just be casual about the Word of God. We need to read the Bible, and not just the parts that we like. We need to study the words and deeds of Jesus so closely that we know Him intimately. If someone came to me with a statement that was supposedly from my mom, I would know right away if it seemed off or out of character for her. After all, she’s my mother. I’ve known her for 36 years. I know her heart. We Christians should be able to say the same for Jesus, but we can’t do that if we pick and choose the verses and the books that we read. Our recently retired pastor, Charles Price, often reminded the congregation that we should be listening to his sermons with our Bibles open, and never trust what he said without verifying that it was in line with the Word of God. Our Bibles are integral to our knowledge of Jesus.
We live in a world where truth is relative and opinion reigns supreme. More than ever, we need to know our Bibles and to truly know Jesus well enough to separate fact from fiction. Just like my note from the fake Justin Timberlake could cause others to change their opinion of what kind of person I am, false statements in the name of Jesus can call into question the reputation of our God, and can lead us to make decisions that are out of line with God’s will for us. Let’s take time to know Jesus inside and out.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 1 Timothy 4:3-5