21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 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 in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23

My wife and I enjoy watching the cooking show “Chopped.” On the show, each of the contestants has a set amount of time to utilize each of the items in a mystery basket and quickly prepare a great dish. Throughout the show, the camera pans to a previously recorded interview with each contestant. In this interview, each person shares their motive for being on the show and winning the $10,000 prize. Some want to boost their own business, while others hope to support a family member. Still others hope to make a difference in the community. Outwardly, it looks like they are all doing the same thing as they cook, but inwardly, their motives vary widely.

In Jesus’ teaching here at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, he is contrasting two lives. As we saw yesterday, we are all building a life. The decisions we make and the character we develop begins to form the foundation of our “house.” On the outside, it may look like all religious people are doing the same good things. Many are prophesying, driving out demons, and performing miracles in Jesus’ name. What could be wrong with that? Why would Jesus speak so harshly and say to them, “I never knew you!”? So what makes the difference?

At our core, Jesus desires a relationship with us. As we build a life, we must build our lives on him through faith. Jesus desires that we do the will of God from a place of relationship, rather than performance. There is great danger in fixating only on our outward duty and actions. We may think we can be “good enough” on our own strength. We may do many religious things for God such as giving to the poor, serving in our communities, tithing regularly, etc . But in doing so, we may miss the point. The true question is: do we truly know Jesus? God is much more interested in our relationship with Him than our performance for Him. When we begin to understand this, we experience a renewed freedom as we experience intimacy with Christ. Our hearts begin to align with His.

Today, read through John 15. What would it look like for you to abide in Christ? To rest in His love and to enter more fully into a deep, intimate relationship with Him? Take some time to write down a few things you are learning about the personality of God from this passage.

By Billy Berglund

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