The Only Jesus They Know
Hosea 4:1, “For the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land, Because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land.”
One morning last week I had coffee, prayer, and a time of Bible study with a friend of mine who is also a brother in Christ. During our Bible study time we had a discussion about the reality that we live in what I have heard referred to as “post-Christian America.” The meaning of this phrase is that in our culture today most people are not really all that familiar with the Bible or Christianity. Yes, they know who Jesus is, but they don’t have any real understanding of who He really is and why He came, and they certainly do not want to submit to His authority in their lives.
In Hosea 4:1, “the land” that is being referred to is of course Israel and as American Christians we need to be careful to not take the references to ancient Israel out of context and somehow apply them to modern day America. Israel is God’s chosen people, that has not changed, the United States is not promised a thing in Scripture. Evangelical Republican American Christians are not God’s chosen people. The church has not replaced Israel as God’s chosen people. God’s chosen people beginning in Genesis chapter 12 was Israel and they are still His chosen people today.
Having said all of that, we also understand that the entire Bible is relevant to us today. Even though 21st Century America is very different from ancient Israel, the principles are the same. God does indeed have “a case against the inhabitants of the land.” Whether that land be ancient Israel or the modern American church. We are much like the church at Ephesus that Jesus writes to in Revelation 2, in that we have abandoned our first love. We have ceased being faithful and instead we pursue every single latest fad in our culture, in the misguided hope that our culture will accept us. When there is a lack of “faithfulness” to God and His Word then there is a lack of spiritual fruit and the one that is mentioned here is “kindness.” We are not kind because we are not faithful.
When Christians are not faithful to God and His Word, in other words when we do not live like Christians, then our witness is a very poor witness. What does this lead to? Hosea answers that in the very next line, “Or knowledge of God in the land.” When we do not “walk in manner worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called” (Eph. 4:1) then there is indeed a lack of “knowledge of God in the land.” Most of our non-believing friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors are not going to read the Bible or attend church. What they will do though is observe us and how we conduct ourselves in our day to day lives. If they see that we are full of hot air, that we talk about loving Jesus but really don’t act that out. Then they are not going to believe anything we have to say.
There is an old saying, “You may be the only Jesus anyone ever sees.” Our challenge, in fact our command is to live lives that honor God and thus speak to the trans-formative power of Jesus Christ in our lives. Are you living that way?