The first album I remember buying was Aerosmith's Toys In The Attic. (Yes, a real vinyl album.) It was awesome. Interestingly, my son's favorite band is Aerosmith – in fact, he has their logo tattooed across his back (sometimes sons don't listen to their mothers). Jayson has also been to a number of their concerts; he's on their fan list so he gets notified first whenever tickets go on sale. He loves their music and is one of the reasons that they continue to rock on after all these years.
Guess what? Stephen Tyler doesn't know him. In fact, none of the band members do. You are thinking, "No duh!" (or something similar that would be from this decade). Your thinking makes sense, but we don't apply the same logic to similar experiences. Replace Stephen Tyler with our lead man – Jesus. Does he know you? Don't answer too quickly.
Matthew 7: 21-23 says, "Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me you who break God's laws."
This might sound harsh, but what he's saying is we pat ourselves on the back for going to concerts (sitting in a pew on Sunday), buying a few t-shirts (supporting our church's potluck), putting a bumper sticker on our car, and telling people how great the band is (because that's what church people say). But when it comes down to it, many of us haven't personally met Jesus.
Jesus is saying is it's not about doing religious things - it's about spending time with him. You have to move from head knowledge to heart knowledge.
The only way to live a life in love with Jesus is to hang out with him – a lot. Get to know him. Read the Bible and spend time just talking to him.
Why is all of this important? Because this is where EVERYTHING worthwhile comes from.
1. Life is empty without a relationship with Jesus. If you just go through the motions of religion, you will not feel fulfilled and eventually you won't see the point. Worse, you will have deluded yourself into thinking you have a relationship with Christ when you don't. You have to own this for yourself.
2. You can't share what you don't have. In the book Unbinding the Gospel, real life evangelism,pastors and church leaders were asked what one piece of advice they would give to people who want to share Christ. These quotes pretty much summed them all up:
"Tell them that you can't give what you don't have."
"So much that can happen in the church is led or stopped by how healthy my relationship with Christ is."
"It's consistent openness to God that really matters."
After a huge study done by the writers of Unbinding the Gospel, their most important discovery is that "A vivid relationship with God lies at the heart of evangelism." They stated, "The heart of evangelism is being in love with God, being part of a church you love and caring about other people..."
You can't reach others if you haven't let God get ahold of you.
Give yourself a huge gift – get to know God. Spend time with him. Talk to him and tell him EVERYTHING. Your hurts, your happiness, your hopes. Be real with him and he will become more real than you can even imagine. Then, you'll be able to authentically share him with others. Maybe even at an Aerosmith concert.