I don’t think there are too many of us that haven’t heard those words.
Even if you’ve somehow managed to never have read John 14:14 and seen the place where Jesus said, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” I am sure you’ve still heard those 3 words spoken like the period at the end of a sentence; “In Jesus name.”
With all due respect, most of us believe, especially when it comes to spiritual matters, most anything we are told. After all, who would we have to go to so that we might get a “second opinion?” The men (or in places where women are allowed to teach) who use those words say them with such conviction and who are we to question them? Honestly? I’ve known very few pastors that don’t cringe inwardly and frown outwardly when you have an honest question or two about the message they’ve just given.
Well, it’s high time we not only asked those hard questions, but it’s also high time they answered them. It’s “my” eternity” and the eternity of all that hear their alleged “word from the Lord.” Yes, I said “alleged.” Don’t ask me to apologize.
During the past 28 years I’ve heard the words “in the name of Jesus” used in many different ways. Sometimes it sounds like a signature at the bottom of a check and I’ve even heard sermons on “how to fill in a blank check that God has signed” when the message was on John 14:14 as well as the many other verses along this line of thinking.
We just take at face value that when Jesus said “if you ask for anything in my name, I will do it” and few of us take the time to consider, I mean really consider, what exactly does that mean.
By nature we are selfish, some to a lesser degree than others, and most of us when we hear these words, focus our attention on the one word in this verse that appeals to our nature- “Anything” To selfish, self centered creatures that one word coming to our ears is like giving a child a pad and pencil and telling them to make a Christmas list; “anything” is all we hear and we’ll ask for anything.
I’ve also watched enough TV evangelists to know that, often times, these words are more theatrical than meaningful. “In the name of Jeeeeeeeeesus!” comes across as if merely saying it ratifies their sermon, but to imprint it with their own self confidence they feel the need to increase the decibel level. My question is this, if the name of Jesus is as powerful as they believe, then wouldn’t whispering it be just as effective?
I am pretty sure that by now you can almost feel my pulse as I write this. I know I can and that’s because I am finally to the point in my Christian life where I have the courage to speak out against those teachings that I know only enslave people.
I’ve been to the ICU in a hospital and I’ve seen people utter confident prayers of healing. I’ve seen the tears of a mother who had called for some pastor to come pray for the miracle she so desperately needed. I’ve heard confident words spoken by self assured men and I’ve heard them say “in the name of Jesus.” I’ve also gotten the funeral notice for that child or read their obituary.
Is it any wonder there is this animosity from without and confusion from within the church? How is it that so many of the things we ask for “in Jesus name” are never done? Still, we stay, like sheep without a shepherd, we stay; meanwhile the unbelieving world watches in disgusting wonder, trying to figure out why we still believe as we do, when it’s plain to see that “in Jesus name” has done nothing for us at all.
It’s time that we admit, both to ourselves and to one another that those words “in Jesus name” have become a slogan, a mantra, the signature on a blank check and it’s also time that it end right here.
Let me paraphrase (write in a way that adds clarity) what it is Jesus has been saying all along;
“If you ask for anything, anything at all, that is IN KEEPING WITH MY NATURE,I will do it.” It’s really just that simple.
Let’s say that you and I were acquaintances, meaning that our relationship hadn’t yet gotten to the point of using the word “friend” when we spoke and thought of each other. Still, there was some familiarity among us and just enough to where the day you felt you had a need; you could come to me asking for some help.
Now, let’s say that you were predisposed to ask for some things that weren’t good for you and you’d come to my house to see if I would give you those things. But, I wasn’t available at the time and one of my daughters opened the door to you.
Before the door is completely open to you, you nervously spout out these words; “Don told me that I, because I’m in pain, I could borrow 50 bucks to go buy some crack cocaine. Just until I can get this prescription filled, that is.”
What have you just done?
For one, you’ve used my name and you’ve just asked for something that I would never give you. What you just asked for is not in keeping with the kind of man that I am. What you’ve just requested is not in keeping with my nature.
Those that know me know that I would never grant such a request under any circumstances. Still, you’d assumed that the mention of my name was a guarantee for your receiving those things you’d asked for. Which should prove to you that you really don’t know me, at least not as well as you’d assumed, because if you had known me you would already know that asking me for such a thing would be ridiculous.
Another truth that comes to mind is those other misunderstood words we’ve all heard so much about. They are there for us in Exodus 20, verse 7 where we see these words: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.”
Should you come to my house and ask for something I will most assuredly not give you, but you use my name to secure it, you have “used my name in vain.”
Using someone’s name in vain simply means that we use the name of another emptily. That is, since vain literally means “empty”, there will not be the granting of your request because those that know me know that even the use of my name will not be enough. Your words will be vain, empty of substance, truth (of what they know about me), and you will walk away empty handed.
Now, if you’d come to my home and one of my children met you at the door and you told them; “Don said I could come over to get a ‘sleeve of golf balls’ and the 9- iron” then your use of my name would be truthful, because those that know me can be sure that when it comes to golf, I’m your man. Your petition would be heard, your request would be granted, and your prayer would be answered. What you asked for is in keeping with who I am and what I do.
Ponder this for a while and watch what happens. Now that you know what Jesus means when He says; “if you ask for anything in My name, I will do it.” Pay close attention to the way this truth forever changes not just what you understand when you say “in Jesus name” but it will also cause you to do two things.
One, it will cause you to really consider what it is you were about to ask Him for and you’ll choose your words much more carefully.
Secondly, and this is the best part of all, it will show you if you really know Him at all. It’s good to find out you don’t know Him now, than to find out then that you don’t, but only assumed you did.
Knowing Him is what this thing called Christianity is all about, and I can say that to you “in Jesus name.”