Jesus Wants Obedience

[Jesus said,]“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!’

Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)

This passage of Scripture has always been both interesting and troubling to me.  Interesting that it comes at the end of the Sermon on the Mount.  My pastor called the Sermon (Matthew 5-7) the greatest sermon ever preached!  I don’t think any of us will argue that point with him!  It gives such great encouragement and flies in the face of what the Pharisees had taught (demanded!) of the people of that time.  It also contradicts what the world teaches us now.  It draws my focus to my relationship with God and the ‘forever-ness’ of that relationship vs. the fleeting rewards of this world.  And then Jesus ends the sermon with this passage that is a warning to those of us who see ourselves as leaders and doers in God’s kingdom.  Are we doing in obedience???

The passage is troubling because it can bring holy fear to consider that Jesus, on Judgment Day, would turn to me and say, “I never knew you”.  How could He do that?  Why would He do that?

It doesn’t take much time in Bible study to learn that God wants obedience above all else.  We are to “obey him with all [our] hearts” (Deuteronomy 30:2).  “ obey is better than sacrifice…” says the great prophet Samuel. (1Samuel 15:22)  Jesus said that if we truly loved Him we would obey Him. (John 14:23)  When faced with questions and persecution, Peter and the apostles said that they “must obey God not man!”  (Acts 5:29)

Obedience is so simple and yet very hard.  It is denying my way; crucifying my flesh.  It is rejecting self-help books and their gurus; choosing instead to turn to my Creator, my Savior, my best friend, and be obedient to His way.

Jesus will know me on Judgment Day because He will have seen me following Him on the path that He has laid out for me.  I may not know more than one step at a time or I may bow in submission to the path that He has shown me…but I am obediently walking His path, doing the tasks that He commands, big or small (by my account or whoever’s estimation!) but because I am obedient, the tasks are big to God!

In selecting ‘prophesy’, ‘driving out demons’, and ‘miracles’ as His examples of what WON’T get you in heaven – Jesus may be deliberately poking at us to look not for the big, flashy ministry jobs but look for Him in obediently serving…period.  In the times that I am square in the middle of God’s will, I find myself the least known to others.  I feel God’s approval and more often than not, it will bring me to tears.  No one knows what I did.  God does.  No one applauds.  God does.

The evil one, the deceiver, wins when I think about what others think about me or whether others notice what I’ve done.  When my eyes and thoughts are only about what God thinks or how God looks at me, I am where I should be…in obedience to my Lord.

God is good!

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