The Real Issue: Response to Revelation
Jesus talks quite a bit about the surprises that are in the future, when the sorting takes place between sheep and goats. He tells us that not everyone who calls Him “Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven. He also tells the religious elite that they will be surprised because there will so many Gentiles gathered there ‘from the east and west’, while some of the people to whom he was speaking, who prided themselves on their religious stature, had so missed the point and so rejected truth that they wouldn’t be there at all.
I’ve been pondering this as I prepare for teaching this Sunday on Luke 7. In applying the principle taught by our Lord in its broadest sense, it seems that Jesus is saying that our response to revelation will be more significant than whether or not we have heard or spoken the particular name of Jesus. Romans 1 is very clear on this matter. This isn’t talking about some mushy universalism whereby all people who are sincere go to heaven, because there is sincere rejection of Christ, both by some who know and some who don’t know his name. But it is saying that the real crux of the matter in life is what I do with the light I’m given – and even more, how it changes the way I live.
The same doctrine is articulated by CS Lewis. The following is a quote from CS Lewis’, "The Last Battle," from the chapter "Further up and Further in."
"Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou shouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek."
Whether articulated by Christ, or Lewis, this teaching is both liberating and sobering: It’s liberating in the sense that I can go forth into the world knowing that God is already revealing and people are already responding. It’s sobering because it changes the field of play from the mind to the arena of daily living and relationships. It is there, in the bedroom, and boardroom, and playfield, and minefield, that my faith will be revealed.