The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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     Not too long after COVID-19 resulted in the closure of bank lobbies for walk-in customers, I found myself in the third or fourth drive-through lane at the bank seeking to deposit a check while receiving a small amount of cash back. I placed the check and deposit slip in the plastic cylinder and carefully loaded the cylinder onto the launching pad and hit “send.” With a whoosh, the cylinder quickly ascended through tubing that reminds me of a hamster cage I had as a kid and came to rest right next to the drive-through teller. I couldn’t actually see the cylinder or the teller for that matter inasmuch as a large van was in the lane immediately to my left and blocked my view.
     As I was waiting not-so-patiently (I’m not often accused of being patient) for the teller to send back my cash and deposit receipt, I heard a voice from the aforementioned unseen teller state, “I’ll need to see your driver’s license in order to give you the cash.” My immediate response to the unseen teller was something like “I’m depositing about 90% of the check and only getting a little cash” as if the fact that he was keeping more of my money than he was giving me should be enough to prove my trustworthiness. I did not really want to subject my driver’s license to the rigorous journey through vacuum-powered tubes to someone I couldn’t see. What about identity theft or something related? Thinking quickly, I held my license up to the little camera associated with the launching pad gizmo that had delivered my check in the first place. The yet-to-be-seen teller said, “The camera doesn’t work and I need to see your driver’s license because…I don’t know you.” Reluctantly, I loosened my grip and bid my license farewell as I hit the “send” button.   
     Recorded in Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus declared “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (v. 21). To those who would argue for their suitability or eligibility to reside with Jesus eternally based on externals such as good works (v. 22), Jesus offered his response in advance as I never knew you. Depart from me…” (v. 23).
     Who are those who Christ never knew? Who are those ineligible for entry into the kingdom of heaven? One group would be the Nominalizers.  Nominal “Christians” are those who are Christian in name only. Christianity appeals to those who nominalize because they (1) seek a simple or easy path to focusing on Christ, (2) they savor the cultural practice of favoring Christ, and (3) they shine amid a legal pattern of following Christ. In a nominalizer’s understanding of Christ and Christianity, joining a church or participating in church ministries and activities, accepting the local customs and culture of the church, and checking all of the expected boxes properly and in pharisaical fashion, qualifies them as Christian and should naturally usher them into the presence of God for eternity. Rather than “seeking first God’s Kingdom” (Matt. 6:33) and “doing the will of my Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21) from the posture of a Spirit-transformed life stemming from a changed heart that loves God and is lived in surrendered obedience to Him (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; John 14:23), nominalizers see Christianity as a label or brand with which they want to be associated often for personal and earthly gain. To the nominalizers, Jesus would say, “I never knew you.”