In Name or Relationship?
"And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, ‘We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; Only let us be called by your name, To take away our reproach'" (Isaiah 4:1).
Isaiah spoke of a day when the judgment of the Lord would greatly reduce the male population in Jerusalem so that seven women would seek to marry the same man in order to take away the reproach of being single. They weren't interested in a marriage relationship or the responsibilities that go with that relationship. All they wanted was the man's name and they would do their own thing and take care of their own needs. It wasn't a matter of love and intimacy but rather a matter of expediency because of their deep-seated pride and arrogance.
This verse speaks volumes about the body of Christ today. How many Christians have come to Christ with the same attitude, wanting His name without the responsibilities that come with it? How many want merely the removal of God's wrath and the assurance of salvation without a true relationship of intimacy? How many want to be called a Christian but at the same time to do their own thing and go their own way? How many want the blessings apart from the Blesser?
Many professing Christians are going to be shocked on that day when the Lord comes for His bride only to hear the words, "I do not know you." The Gospel of Jesus Christ is far more than having a name or saying a prayer or going to church. It is about intimate relationship with God. It is about entering into divine union with Jesus Christ. Paul said it best in Ephesians: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:31,32). True Christianity is leaving everything else to become one flesh with Jesus Christ in a husband-wife relationship. It is denying self to follow Jesus. It is putting the hand to the plow and never looking back. It is giving up our life to have His life. It is hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and even our own life in comparison to the love we have for Jesus. It is eating His flesh and drinking His blood. It is abiding in Christ in perfect love. This is the meaning of eternal life.
Eternal life is the end product of a holy relationship with Christ and our inheritance from God. Jesus defined eternal life: "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3). John expounds on this definition: "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:11,12). To have the Son is to have an exclusive, intimate, abiding relationship with Him. It is to enter into a covenant with God based on obedience and faithfulness. "My covenant [on My part with Levi] was to give him life and peace, because [on his part] of the [reverent and worshipful] fear with which [the priests] would revere Me and stand in awe of My name" (Malachi 2:5 Amplified).
To remain in a relationship with God in name only is an affront to the Lord. Jesus Himself said, "But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). The very definition of lordship demands obedience to Him Who is Lord. The scriptures make it very clear that to enter into a saving relationship with Christ is to forsake our own life to come under His absolute lordship in our lives. "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:19,20). And yet, how many live as under the lordship of Christ? How many give Him His rightful place in their daily lives? How many seek first His kingdom and His righteousness above their own pleasures and desires? How many seek His will over their own in their everyday living?
Ruth was a type of the bride of Christ. Notice her attitude when Naomi told her to return to her own people: "But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me'" (Ruth 1:16,17). How many seek Him and cleave to Him with such bridal love? How many are willing to forsake all that is familiar in this life to be with Him, to even die for Him if so be His will?
Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and strength. John defines the love of God: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments" (1 John 5:3). So to love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, and strength is to obey Him with all of your heart, soul, and strength. Jesus said the same thing in the Gospel of John: "Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me'" (John 14:23,24). Our love for God is defined by our obedience to God. To say we love God and walk in disobedience is a lie. "But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him" (1 John 2:5).
Paul understood the love of Christ. He willingly yielded his life and everything he had to know Him and be one with Him (see Philippians 3:7-10). He found the Pearl of Great Price and sold all to purchase it for himself. And because of this, every desire and purpose of Paul's life was transformed into the expression of God's will. "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again" (2 Corinthians 5:14,15). Paul was constrained by the love of Christ to no longer live for himself but to pour out His life for Jesus Christ. He didn't settle for Christ in name only. He "knew Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Philippians 3:10). Paul lived the abiding life of Christ and discovered the joy of the Lord in the midst of his every trial or tribulation.
God is not seeking a people in name only. He seeks a people who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth. He seeks a people who seek to please Him, who delight to do His will in all things. "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him" (2 Chronicles 16:9). Let us not be found wanting on that day because we know Him in name only.