Genesis 20:1‐22:24; Matthew 7:15‐29; Psalm 9:1‐12; Proverbs 2:16‐22
The Religious May be Surprised One Day
A recent statistic was released by Willow Creek Church in Chicago. It states that out of thousands of people surveyed, 75% would be willing to go to church if someone were to personally ask them. They simply have never been asked! Sure, many have seen billboards, flyers, websites, tweets, etc., but most have not had a caring person in their life genuinely ask them to join them for a church service or even a church-related event.
While this is certainly a start in the process, Jesus says clearly in the Gospel of Matthew that many will do things in His name, yet He will say to them, “Depart, for I never knew you.”
“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.” -Matthew 7:21
So what does it really take to enter the kingdom of heaven?
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He continually de-emphasized religion and emphasized personal relationship (specifically with a relationship with Him and the Father in heaven); He emphasized a kingdom mindset verses a worldly mindset. It is the relationship with the Lord that is often missing among the members of our community, even among the religious. Imagine seeing someone stand before Jesus and being told they were on the wrong side, all the while they thought they were standing on the correct side.
“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 7:22-23
May it not be because they had never been told or understood what determines entry into the Kingdom of Heaven in the first place? According to Jesus, one can do “works in His name” and not know Him or be known by Him. Are you trusting in your “mighty works” or in Jesus Himself?
Jesus is the rock on which we stand and gain our strength to tell the world the great news of the gospel. Without the foundation of a personal relationship with Him, everything we do—no matter how noble or good it looks or is—is like building a house on sand. It will ultimately come to ruin. Through knowing and loving Him, we gain entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Proclaim and live a personal relationship with Jesus, and there is a good chance one of those who hears and sees you will be part of the 75% that will respond with a resounding “YES!” to your witness for Jesus.
The Rev. Wes Sharp
Holy Cross Episcopal Church