Kenneth and I are studying through the book of Matthew together, and last night we finished up the Sermon on the Mount. That is one of the hardest passages in all of Scripture! As we exegeted it, this passage cut me to the heart:
“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.’" (7:21-23).
These are not heathens. They're not backsliders. They are heroes of Christian ministry! They confess Jesus as Lord. They did all kinds of great Kingdom work. Yet they didn't do the Father's will. They did all these great things for God, even with God's power, it seems, yet without really knowing or being known by Him. And it pierced me because I have such a repeating history of pressing on with my great works, but really just wanting my own acclaim, my grand agenda. Or thinking I know best. Or have to be the best. I worshiped perfection for far too many years, and saw last night that I still retain so much of the pride that drove me to it, driving me still in the areas where I act as if it's too much to humble myself and listen, to put others above myself.
And so I must revert to the prayer, ruefully given too many times and not enough, for my gracious Father to forgive me, to teach me to love as He loves, to do no more my will but His.