“Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.” – Matthew 7:20-23
The above scripture is, by far, the one that scares me the most. As I interpret it, Jesus is speaking to the religious people (or church folks) and saying that you can do a lot of things in the name of the Lord, but on judgment day they may not count for anything.
I work in the name of the Lord as a vocation. I gave up a secular career to find a way to serve Him with more than just a few volunteer hours per week. I did this because I honestly felt called to do so. So you can image how this scripture sends panic through my heart. I also firmly believe (in response to this scripture and several others) that heaven and hell are very real, and one day I will stand in judgment and Jesus will determine my eternal destiny.
So, what exactly does He mean with this scripture? It is vitally important for me to understand, and I have contemplated it’s meaning for several years. Your thoughts may be different from mine (and that is perfectly ok,) but this is what I have come up with.
I believe that Jesus is saying that it isn’t enough to call myself a Christian and do whatever “good works” that come along. I believe He is saying that He expects me to listen and follow the specific instructions He gives me. I believe that He has a purpose and plan for my life, and He expects me to follow that course of action instead of one that I dream up on my own. It is this obedience to His will that will determine whether I get the “Well done,” or the “I never knew you.”
So this makes me especially mindful of the actions I take, the decisions I make, and the commitments I accept. How can I know that the things I do are pleasing to the Lord? Well, I haven’t quite figured that out yet, completely. But I do know that it begins with a lot of prayer. And also, it helps to talk my decisions over with other believers that I trust, like my small group members.
I was moved to thinking about this issue again last Sunday after hearing Pastor Wade’s sermon. It was extremely thought-provoking for me when he asked us if we were fans or followers of Christ. That is the central question here, with eternal consequences. Am I a faceless, nameless fan of the Lord, or am I His follower, His disciple, His Child?
I encourage anyone struggling with the same question to consider reading Kyle Idleman’s book, “Not a Fan.” I have found it very helpful in my own journey with this question. You can find it at the Liberty Crossings Amazon Store. The link is below and we have the book in both printed and kindle form.
Also, anyone that missed the sermon and would like to hear can do so by clicking on the following link on our website.
I want to be known by You. I don’t want to find myself on that day wishing I had done things differently. Lead to a life that follows the path You have laid out for me. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, that I might have wisdom and discernment. Help me to hear Your voice above all others, and to recognize it.
Thank You for Your unending grace toward me.
In the name of the Savior I pray,