Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday April 16, 2014 Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  Matthew 7:21-23

When is the last time you changed your mind politically in response to someone giving you an alternative viewpoint?   That’s not a frequent occurrence for most of us and it becomes much less likely the nearer and dearer the issue is to our hearts.  We are people vested in thinking our understanding is correct.  We get it.   Understanding makes us feel safer and more comfortable.  For some of us, it makes us feel superior to those who “don’t get it”.
 Few issues are as near and dear to our hearts as faith.  Most of us desperately want to “get it”.  Problem is, like politics, once we “get it”, we tend to rest in our “secure” knowledge and perhaps even get hardened in our own understanding or way of doing things.  Jesus fully understood this human characteristic and that’s why he speaks so boldly to believers in Matthew 7.  He intends to get our attention by challenging the very things we tend not to challenge in ourselves.
Even in these postmodern times, Jesus has more fans than every sports team in America.  But Jesus doesn’t need or want fans.  He wants followers.  It’s possible to have a great moral performance, attend weekly Bible Study, sing praise songs on Sunday with your hands raised high,  listen to Christian radio, go on mission trips, and do everything imaginable in the parallel Christian sub-culture and still miss Jesus as Savior and Lord.  How can that be?  It goes to our underlying motivations.  Are we following Jesus for our own sake--what’s in it for us?  That’s what fans do--they consume experiences.  Or are we following Jesus for His sake-- doing things his way; serving for his glory because we’ve been changed on the inside; loving those he loves;  obeying because we stand in awe of what He did for us on the cross; repenting of sin and self-righteousness? That’s what followers do--they build His Kingdom.
“I never knew you.”  What’s your relationship with Jesus like? Do you know him through his word?  Do you allow him to know you because you’ve given him your heart, time, talents, and resources for his purposes and glory?  It’s impossible to know someone whose motivation is “what’s in it for me?”.  In Jesus’ case, “getting it” is best explained in Matthew 16:24-26a:  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? --Linda Wajda

“Day by day, dear Lord, of thee three things I pray: to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day.”   Richard, Bishop of Chichester, 1253


Tracy said...

AMEN Linda!
"It’s possible to have a great moral performance, attend weekly Bible Study, sing praise songs on Sunday with your hands raised high, listen to Christian radio, go on mission trips, and do everything imaginable in the parallel Christian sub-culture and still miss Jesus as Savior and Lord."
This is so true and I know very personally because of the many years I spent in that place. Way. Too. Many. I used to be so busy with "church work" I had no time for a relationship with God. In that He is God, The Lord knows us in the deepest way, which will be to our detriment if what He sees is nothing but a "whitewashed tomb". Thank God, literally, for the fact that through Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit, He is willing to pursue us so that we may come to know Him in all His glory both in this world and the next!

Linda W said...

I've been that person too. :-)

Nikki Edleman said...

I really appreciate your comments, Linda. I feel deeply that a church community should be tasked most prominently with the job of challenging its congregation to take their discipleship farther and deeper, to constantly give space for folks to evaluate where they are in their faith journeys, and to provide the resources to step out and stretch their faith. I don't think many churches do this.

Linda W said...

Thank you Nikki. As a lay person I have humbly observed the church expends tremendous energy developing and running programs to bring people in and keep them satisfied once they're there. There's nothing inherently wrong with this per se. But I don't think spiritual formation is given nearly the same level of effort and care as program ministries. For me the irony is that volunteer problems and material resource problems in the church are really at their heart often spiritual formation issues. If the church helped more people go farther and deeper, we might run fewer, better programs but actually accomplish a great deal more within the church and within the communities in which we're planted. Transformed people transform communities.

Henry McCarter said...

Have I changed my political positions?
As a boy, with limited church exposure, I was unaware of how badly so many people have life.
As a young man, I was a fiscal conservative and social ignoramus.

As I aged, I became a fiscal conservative and a social liberal.

I now a fiscal liberal, and a social very liberal.

For the past ten years I have taken many programs on finding spiritual gifts.

I am seeing increased enrollments in our United Methodist Lay Servant programs, which from the first course member emphasizes finding your gifts that the Holy Spirit has given to you.

It has been a great joy to see so many people realize their gifts, and go on to use them to build up the body of Christ.

I was thrilled when Pastor Julia gave a sermon series on the gifts of the Spirit, culminating in that beautiful service that called on each of us to put symbolic tokens of our gifts on the altar. I have witnessed some people taking on new ministries as fruit.

Praise be to God!