“You have a bad card, Sir”. When I heard that from the local Sam’s club cashier, I was busy emptying the shopping cart into the conveyor belt at the checkout counter. Without hiding the shock on my face I turned and asked in disbelief, “What?”. He said, “Your membership card is bad, the computer is not accepting it”. It was on a Saturday, I spent almost 2 hours going around the store picking up all the stuff as per the list given by my wife. To me, that 2 hours spent was very precious because I took it out of my time with kids at home. As I stood there, the cashier re-swiped the card and made sure what he saw on the screen was right. As we continued the conversation the line behind me started piling up and all he wanted to do was to get rid of me. The manager of the store came by seeing the ‘commotion’ and took my card to his computer and returned with a dull face, came very close to me and told, “There was a problem with your card in another Sam’s club, you need to go there and dispute with them to take the block out. We have no much detail here” and he gave me the card back with a “sorry” at the end and that ended my 2 hours effort in vain.
I entered the store 2 hours earlier as a ‘proud member since 2001’ and spent some valuable time picking up the stuff needed at home for the next 2 weeks; but now I am leaving the store empty handed, disappointed, humiliated and angry. As I was driving home my helplessness on the situation was so evident in my emotions afterward. It didn’t matter how much stuff I had in my cart; it didn’t matter how much time I spent filling the cart; it didn’t matter how desperately we needed diapers at home for my 2 year old son; it didn’t matter anything to the store. All they cared was a ‘right’ card.
This incident reminded me of the ‘religious works’ we try to do in an assumption that we have the right ‘card’ in our wallet. It is so easy to get busy filling up cart, earning points, running around, abandoning time with loved ones, totally forgetting the fact that all these matters only if we have the right card - Jesus - in us.
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?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' That’s exactly what the cashier told me, ‘depart, we don’t recognize you as a member’.
Do we know Him and does He know us, is the only thing what matters and nothing else! Whatever we accomplish in the energy of our flesh during our lifetime here on earth will have no value in the final analysis. The saddest thing is that if we wait till the time of 'check-out' it will be too late. It doesn’t matter how much sacrifice it may involve, or how great our enthusiasm or our sincerity in doing it. It is so easy to fall into the trap of busyness in the name of evangelism, mission, charity and church activities, but if it is not Christ who is accomplishing it through us, it is all nothing but ‘filthy rags’.
Major Ian Thomas once said:
As far as God is concerned, Christ is the preacher, Christ is the missionary, Christ is the Christian Worker, Christ is the witnessing Christian. Only what He is and what He does is righteousness - and what He is and what He does is released through you only by your attitude of dependence. This is called faith - and “whatsoever is not of faith is sin”
As I have tried desperately in the past to duplicate His work, I lost contentment in life and always looked for some 'work' to fill up my emptiness. I became workaholic and used the works I do to hide my true self from others. I could never be honest and authentic in my personality as I was trying to 'please God' and earn points.
The Major went on saying this:
This is the curse of Christendom! This is what paralyzes the activity of the church of Jesus Christ on earth today! In defiance of God’s Word, God’s mind, God’s will, and God’s judgement, men everywhere are prepared to dedicate to God what God condemns – the energy of the flesh!
I could accomplish nothing in my energy; If I could, why would the God of the universe stepped out of eternity, came down to live in me? What is the significance of his indwelling? Let's learn to being held by Him, lets not wiggle as He tries to hold us securely in His hands, lets not try to grasp the mysteries of godliness with our high IQ, education and training. Is living as a mere branch too simple for us? Are we too sophisticated and educated that we came to a point that we could do the works of God with our education, technology and planning?
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him - Colossians 2:6. We received Him by faith and we want to continue to live in Him by faith and thats pretty the Christian life is all about. It is supposedly simple, easy and light and may be thats the reason Jesus instructed us to learn something from the little children.