I Never Knew You, Part 2


I Never Knew You.  Most Christians will recognize these words as the scariest ones in the Bible.  They’re from this passage in Matthew:

I Never Knew You, can be made from alphabet letters, but not the contextMt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 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 perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

The thing is – while “I never knew you” can be spelled using the letters of the alphabet at the right, we cannot tell “who” never knew “who”.

“I Never knew You”

We assume Jesus never knew us.

The simple truth is – Jesus never knew us, because we never knew Jesus.
That title is us telling Jesus, “I never knew you”, before He ever says it to us.

Don’t believe it?

How about this passage –

Mt 12:33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Like the “I never knew you” phrase, there are two things in here as well.  One is the words.  The other is the fruit.

We can say all the right words – but what about the things we do?  Careless words includes not only the obvious ones, but also the lies we try to tell ourselves – which turn into the lies we actually tell others – who then believe us when we claim to be telling the truth.

Unbelief

Let’s follow that just a bit further, before getting to the point.

The Unbelief of the Jews

Jn 10:22 Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jn 10:25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Yes – Jesus’ followers know His voice.  And in a perfect world, we’d never be deceived by a false voice.  But the world isn’t perfect.  And we do get deceived.  And that’s how we get “bad trees” with “bad fruit”.  And that’s how we get people who eat the bad fruit, and get deceived.  If we are the bad fruit with the false voice – then others are deceived because of us.

How can that happen?

How can we go from trying to follow Jesus – trying to teach about Jesus – to bearing bad fruit that corrupts others and leads them so far astray that Jesus tells them, “I never knew you“?

There’s another passage from John that we need to check out.

Jn 10:14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

The key thing I want to point out here is this – I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.  This was a statement by Jesus to the Jewish people – about non-Jews.  Jesus has followers other than just the Jewish people.  And they know His voice.

All of this makes it sound impossible to deceive followers of Jesus.  And yet – it happens.  Remember, this is not a perfect world.  That’s why Jesus gave us the warning below.

Mt 18:2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Mt 18:5 “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Mt 18:7 “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”

Once again, there’s more than one thing happening here.  It’s a warning – but it’s to both the one who would cause someone to sin – and to the one’s who commit the sin(s).

An example of I Never Know You

You may have seen / read this headline recently.

‘I am gay’: Wisconsin priest comes out to parishioners, gets standing ovation

We have a priest – a Catholic who leads people in his parish.  He’s gay.  And announces this to the people in his church.  And they give this gay priest a standing ovation.

Now – before moving along any further, I refer you to LGBT in Heaven? It talks about the difference between those who do something the Bible says is wrong, and those who teach that those things, in spite of what the Bible says, are OK.

So – let’s proceed.

From the very beginning, the Bible says the things below.

Ge 1:27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

and

Ge 2:19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Ge 2:23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

Ge 2:24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

For those that choose to ignore the passage below, I include it to remind everyone that it really is in the Bible, and to deny it puts everyone who denies it in the target audience Jesus was addressing below.

Jn 10:25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Jesus and the Father are one – so there’s no getting around that Jesus is one with the God of the Old Testament.  Creation is no small miracle.  To say that gay / lesbian activity is OK is against what the Bible says, and Jesus tells us that we don’t believe it because we are not His sheep – not His followers.

Translation – We tell Jesus, “I never knew you”.  And then, as a result, Jesus tells us, “I never knew you”.

I could give more examples, but that’s not my point.  It’s not about listing all the examples where the Bible says homosexuality is wrong.  It’s about the difference between condemning the act – and condemning the people.  In the course of researching this article, I came across (I believe by God’s “coincidental” guidance) the excerpt below.

HOMOSEXUALITY. The Bible says nothing specifically about the homosexual condition (despite the rather misleading RSV translation of 1 Cor. 6:9), but its condemnations of homosexual conduct are explicit. The scope of these strictures must, however, be carefully determined. Too often they have been used as tools of a homophobic polemic which has claimed too much.

Yes, I really included this.  And yes, I really meant to.  If you have a problem with it, let me ask you a question or two.  Consider the passage below.

The Rich Young Man

Mk 10:17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Mk 10:18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’’”

Mk 10:20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Mk 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Mk 10:22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

You’re welcome to read the rest of the passage, but my point is made already.  Jesus knew this young man had a problem with money.  A problem so strong that he was unable to do something as basic as helping the poor.  But look what else happened.  There’s always more than one thing, isn’t there?  Knowing full well that this young man was going to hang on to his money, and knowing full well that he was going to reject Him, Jesus still looked at him and loved him.  And after that, Jesus still made the offer, Then come, follow me.  

If Jesus does that, who are we to not love people who reject Him?

Maybe we believe homosexuality is worse than taking care of the poor?

How about murder?  Is it worse than murder?  If you’re not sure, please check out Are there dragons in Heaven.  At what point will our refusal to believe what Jesus tells us result in us telling Him, I never knew you?

The exegesis of the Sodom and Gibeah stories (Gn. 19:1–25; Jdg. 19:13–20:48) is a good case in point. We must resist D. S. Bailey’s widely-quoted claim that the sin God punished on these occasions was a breach of hospitality etiquette without sexual overtones (it fails to explain adequately both the double usage of the word ‘know’ (yāḏa‘) and the reason behind the substitutionary offer of Lot’s daughters and the Levite’s concubine); but neither account amounts to a wholesale condemnation of all homosexual acts. On both occasions the sin condemned was attempted homosexual rape, not a caring homosexual relationship between consenting partners.

Be careful here – don’t take this as the conclusion and stop reading.  As with all things, context matters, and there more to this.  An explanation follows.

The force of the other OT references to homosexuality is similarly limited by the context in which they are set. Historically, homosexual behaviour was linked with idolatrous cult prostitution (1 Ki. 14:24; 15:12; 22:46). The stern warnings of the levitical law (Lv. 18:22; 20:13) are primarily aimed at idolatry too; the word ‘abomination’ (tô‘ēḇâ), for example, which features in both these references, is a religious term often used for idolatrous practices. Viewed strictly within their context, then, these OT condemnations apply to homosexual activity conducted in the course of idolatry, but not necessarily more widely than that.

Again, keep reading.  Context matters.

In Rom. 1 Paul condemns homosexual acts, lesbian as well as male, in the same breath as idolatry (vv. 23–27), but his theological canvas is broader than that of Lv. Instead of treating homosexual behaviour as an expression of idolatrous worship, he traces both to the bad ‘exchange’ fallen man has made in departing from his Creator’s intention (vv. 25f.). Seen from this angle, every homosexual act is unnatural (para physin, v. 26), not because it cuts across the individual’s natural sexual orientation (which, of course, it may not) or infringes OT law (contra McNeill), but because it flies in the face of God’s creation scheme for human sexual expression.

Now, we have the context.  The fall.  Perversion.  

A perversion of what Genesis says about man and woman shall become one.
But also a perversion of Love.  Not the way we too often view “love” today, but of God’s love.  Which, by the way, is supposed to be the way we love each other.  Given the fall, that’s not going to happen, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to try.  It doesn’t mean we’re just supposed to give up trying and do whatever we want.

Paul makes two more references to homosexual practice in other Epistles. Both occur in lists of banned activities and strike the same condemnatory note. In 1 Cor. 6:9f. practising homosexuals are included among the unrighteous who will not inherit the kingdom of God (but with the redemptive note added, ‘such were some of you’); and in 1 Tim. 1:9f. they feature in a list of ‘the lawless and disobedient’. The latter is especially important because the whole list represents an updated version of the *TEN COMMANDMENTS. Paul parallels the 7th commandment (on adultery) with a reference to ‘immoral persons’ (pornoi) and ‘sodomites’ (arsenokoitai), words which cover all sexual intercourse outside marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual. If the Decalogue is permanently valid, the significance of this application is heightened still further.

Oops.  More context.  Context that many heterosexual people will want to avoid.  It’s easy to point at someone who does something we consider wrong – and tell them they’re wrong.  It’s not so easy to realize the same words we use to condemn someone else are also meant to condemn us.  And yet, the Bible tells us of that as well, if we care to read, remember, and believe it.

Mt 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Am I implying that premarital sex is worse than homosexual sex?  Like the first is the plank, and the latter is only a speck?  No – not at all.  I’m saying straight out that our refusal to recognize our own sins (yes – sins) is worse than telling others about theirs.  Both sins are wrong.  But it’s not for us to condemn, until we take care of ourselves as we learned in the passage below.

Jn 8:1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

Jn 8:9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

Jn 8:11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Oh.  So much for the idea of condemning others after we clean up our own act.  We’ll never be without sin, so we cannot rightly condemn someone else.  Failing to recognize that will only add to our sins.  And drive us close to the point where, for lack of believing what Jesus said, we tell Him, “I never knew you”.

It has been suggested that the meaning of arsenikoitēs in 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10 may be restricted to that of ‘male prostitute’ (cf. Vulg. masculi concubitores). Linguistic evidence to support this view is lacking, however, though the word itself is certainly rare in literature of the NT period. It seems beyond reasonable doubt that Paul intended to condemn homosexual conduct (but not homosexual people) in the most general and theologically broad terms he knew. His three scattered references fit together in an impressive way as an expression of God’s will as he saw it. As Creator, Law-Giver and King, the Lord’s condemnation of such behaviour was absolutely plain.

In case it wasn’t clear before – here it is.  It’s the conduct – the act – not the people involved in the act.  BTW – that goes for the various sinful acts every one of us is involved in as well.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. H. Thielicke, The Ethics of Sex, E.T. 1964; D. H. Field, The Homosexual Way—A Christian Option?, 1976; J. J. McNeill, The Church and the Homosexual, 1977.  1)Field D. H. (1996). Homosexuality. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., pp. 478–479). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

What about the Priest?

Can you see the problem that may come up with the priest?

Here are some excerpts from the NBC report.

Excerpt 1

“I will embrace the person that God created me to be,” Greiten wrote. “In my priestly life and ministry, I, too, will help you, whether you are gay or straight, bisexual or transgendered, to be your authentic self — to be fully alive living in your image and likeness of God.”

The priest says he is just being the person God created him to be.  Is that really true?  Or is it the perversion of the person God created him to be?  Is he living in the “image of God”?  Or is he living in a perverted image of God?

Well –

Ge 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

Ge 1:27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

As a priest, this man should be aware of these verses.  He should know they exist.  A priest should know what they mean.  A priest should know that this lifestyle is a perversion of what God says about us as people.

Mt 18:5 “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Excerpt 2

“By choosing to enforce silence, the institutional church pretends that gay priests and religious do not really exist. Because of this, there are no authentic role models of healthy, well-balanced, gay, celibate priests to be an example for those, young and old, who are struggling to come to terms with their sexual orientation. This only perpetuates the toxic shaming and systemic secrecy,” Greiten explained.

Yes, the church pretending that these things don’t happen is a problem.  However, the conclusion this priest reaches is not the correct one.  Secrecy is not right – but again, the conclusion is wrong.

1Jn 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

The act is one of darkness – a perversion of what God intended.
Secrecy is also an act of darkness – with the church refusing to bring light to the darkness.
And so all remain in the dark.  No one involved in this walks in the light.
Then a priest comes along claiming to bring the light, so to speak.
And yet, when the wrong conclusion is reached, is it true light?  Or is it darkness that will continue to keep everyone involved from being purified – forgiven – no longer living in sin?

excerpt 3

“We support Father Greiten in his own personal journey and telling his story of coming to understand and live with his sexual orientation,” Listecki said in a statement Monday. “As the Church teaches, those with same-sex attraction must be treated with understanding and compassion.”

Yes – people with same-sex attraction should be treated with understanding and compassion.  But where do we learn about this understanding and compassion.  I submit that the church leaders, of all people, should know the source for learning about understanding and compassion.

Mk 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Mk 10:22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Understanding and compassion is about telling the truth – in a loving way.

Jn 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The truth will set us free.

A lie will keep us in captivity.

We may or may not accept the truth – but too often we’re all too willing to accept the lie.

The passage from John continues.

Jn 8:33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jn 8:34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.’”

Jn 8:39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the things your own father does.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

Jesus tells them the truth.  By them, I mean Jews who actually believed what Jesus had said so far.  They believed, apparently, the Old Testament.  They even agreed, up to this point, with what Jesus was saying.  Then, they find something they don’t like.  And while insisting they are God’s children, they reject God Himself.

Are we doing anything different when we claim to believe God – to teach what God says – and then, when we come across something we don’t like – we deny the part(s) we don’t like?

I could take any or all of the quotes from Jesus and apply them to this statement from Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki.  Claiming / condoning that teaching homosexual behavior is part of living in God’s image is “interesting”. 

It avoids conflict.  It keeps people happy in a congregation where it gets a standing ovation.

It means not having to deal with the problem.  It’s easy.

However, it’s not understanding or compassionate.  It leaves the priest in a state of sin.  It entices the congregation to have a wrong impression of God, believing that what the Bible says is a lie about God.  It teaches that what the Bible says is a perversion is actually OK.

All of that leads to one horrible conclusion.  Everyone participating in this cover-up of what the Bible actually says is preventing those who listen to this false voice from receiving the love of Jesus.  It’s preventing them from receiving forgiveness from Jesus as well – because they don’t even realize they need forgiveness.

Mt 18:5 “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

It’s rejecting Jesus.  And teaching others to reject Jesus,

It’s worse than putting a large millstone around their own necks.

And all of this comes with the blessings of these leaders of the church.

It’s wrong.

It’s not compassionate.  It’s not truthful.  It’s telling Jesus, “I never knew you”.

And worse yet, it’s teaching others to tell Jesus, “I never knew you”.

And in the end, Jesus will tell us, “I never knew you”.

Conclusion

By now, some of you, although I hope not too many, are expecting a final condemnation of homosexual behavior.

It that’s what you think, go back and read again.

It’s not about the act.  It’s about the people.

The act is what it is – a perversion.

But the people.  God loves the people – all of us.  God wants us to leave our life of sin.  Jesus wants us to follow Him.  Jesus tells us the truth – to set us free.  And with the Great Commission, Jesus wants us to tell the truth to other people as well.  Not to lie to them, not to teach them to reject Jesus, but to love Jesus – to be set free by Jesus.

The act?  It doesn’t matter what it is.  maybe it’s homosexual behavior.  Maybe it’s being greedy.  Maybe it’s stealing.  Maybe it’s premarital sex.  Maybe it’s adultery.  Maybe it’s murder.  It doesn’t matter.  God doesn’t love a lot of the acts we do.  But He does love us.

And that’s the kind of love we should have for each other.  We may not like the act – but we should still love and care about the people.  Even if those who should know better don’t do these things.

In fact – when those who should know better don’t act like it – don’t give them a standing ovation.  Don’t cheer “religious” leaders for their ungodly behavior.  Listen not to them, but to Jesus.

Don’t be the one who hears, “I never knew you”, from Jesus.
The best way to avoid that?  Don’t tell Jesus, “I never knew you”.

References   [ + ]

1. Field D. H. (1996). Homosexuality. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., pp. 478–479). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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