Fast or not the rush was enjoyable, because it involved a long drive, sun-roof open/windows down. I took the route through downtown Tampa because I like the dramatic street-scape on a clear day. The temperature - under a cloudless sky - was 66 degrees when I left Brandon and 72 when I arrived in Palm Harbor. My soundtrack for the drive? Hymns of the 49th Parallel, by K.D. Lang.
I found myself thinking about a long conversation Rebekah and I were having Monday evening about the idea of salvation (Yes, we are that couple who go out to dinner, hog our table for an extra hour or so with recurring coffee, and talk about things like faith and theology along with a shared slice of cheesecake).
"I've been going over the story Jesus told about the 'wise and foolish virgins'," I said. "You're kidding?" she replied. "That's what I'm going to be preaching on this weekend."
"No way! What's making me think is the idea that it really wasn't so much about having their ticket punched for the ball... as the fact that the bridegroom simply didn't know them. "Master, we're here. Let us in." He answered, "Do I know you? I don't think I know you..." (Matthew 25:1-13)
I'm captivated by the idea that we could go to church, get baptized, take communion, come down to the front for prayer - whatever - and still be the kind of people who the bridegroom does not recognize when he shows up!
And here's the interesting part; the ambiguity of the notion doesn't worry me one bit. You see, I'm convinced that the "Are you saved?" discussion has been way off base for a long time. Too many manipulative evangelicals have messed with the concept and tried to make it some kind of hand-stamp or bar-code. Questions such as "Are you really saved?" or, "Tell me the date and the time you were saved?" and, "If you didn't say these particular magic words then you're not saved at all." And even, "You have to have been baptized in our church and in our way... blah blah blah...."
I think - and don't confuse this with a legalistic measure - the key question turns out to be, "Will the bridegroom even know who you are/I am when it's time for the party?"
Equally relevant is, "Will I recognized the bridegroom?"
Jesus spends the remainder of Matthew 25 talking about kingdom behavior. The Master actually believed that being a Follower of The Way should make a difference as to how we live. He doesn't say anything at all about if the sheep - or the goats for that matter - knew the "Four Spiritual Laws" by heart, were baptized by immersion, or ever said "The Sinners Prayer."
But he knew them all.
"Do I know you? I don't think I know you..."