While all people may rightfully be referred to as “all God’s children”, there are a variety of descriptions in Scripture that make it clear that there are degrees of faith among people and certain descriptions that we show a progressive degree of relationship to God.
Pagans, idolaters- Some do not know God- worship idols, “gods”
God’s Children- Affirms all are created in His image
“God-Fearer”, Believer- “Ask”, acknowledges belief in God
Follower /Doer of the Word- Greater measure of commitment
Disciple of Jesus Christ- “Seek” – Student, recognizes Christ as Incarnate God and Master
Friend of God- “Knock” -Knows treasure of heart to heart intimacy with God, responsive
Son of God- Title for Chrst- and, to lesser degree we become sons and daughters and co-heirs as our lives embody the Gospel and live reflecting Christ
Where are you in this progression of living your Christian faith? Some may be familiar with a book entitled “not a fan”…. A “fan” is someone who knows and cheers for Jesus, but doesn’t necessarily adhere to his teaching. Hearers, God fearers, even believers or followers and doers of the Word may only be fans…..temporary…not all in. A disciple, friend of God, and Son or Daughter of God has a whole different degree of commitment.
Jesus gives us a way of thinking about these degrees in the subtleties observed in Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
One who simply “asks” is at least curious and may only be interested in gaining information that satisfies the curiosity, like the spiritual tourist looking to someone more experienced to provide them with information or gathering brochures for a self-guided tour. Once they’ve marked the venue off their bucket list, they are not likely to go again unless it has been an especially satisfying experience.
One who “seeks” is more inquisitive and looking for information more substantial than simply the obvious. Such inquisitive seekers are the adventurers among us. But the adventurer’s pursuit may be only a matter of satisfying a more voracious intellectual curiosity, too, or to proclaim the deeper “truths” discovered to others to make the investment in his own journey worthwhile or to have it applauded by the tourists with whom he can share it, but not necessarily to draw others into the journey with her.
It is those who longing to arrive at a specific destination or state of being who will “knock” purposefully, knowing what it is they desire and knowing where to find it. They are the pilgrims. They know that there is something special that awaits them and they are willing to expend the effort to get to even remote places and will ask questions of anyone along the way who can help direct them to their goal. They greet other pilgrims along the way. They enjoy sharing the stories of their journey with one another and gladly share the resources they find so that others can be sustained in the journey, too.
Christ knew that there would be such varying degrees of desire on the part of those who would follow him …. the curious who ask questions, the inquisitive who want to know all they can, and the determined who won’t quit until they get the answers they want. He also knew that as the journey became longer and more difficult, some would fall away. But the reward for persevering in the journey would be well worth the effort. I am a pilgrim, a disciple determined to get to the place that will end all the journeys ….. the destination where permanent residence with Christ makes no additional journeying necessary. It is a place of peace and contentment in the presence of the Lord who blazed the trail, who journeys with me as a companion, and who welcomes me when I knock on the door.