21 “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.22 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.’23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Church families are always interested in increasing their attendance. This is not a bad thing. In the book of Acts we read in several different places the number of people being saved. Numbers show us that people are responding to the Gospel. What we need to remember is that just because someone attends church or has made a confession of faith doesn’t mean that person is following Jesus.
Some people understand the truth of the Gospel, it makes sense to them, but somewhere in their lives and in their heart a disconnect happens. The truth which makes sense in their heads never makes it to their hearts. While they agree with what Jesus taught their lives remained unchanged.
We need to remember that to truly be a Christian requires more than verbal acknowledgement of the truth. To be a follower of Christ also requires obedience to God’s will.
I find it interesting that the false disciples Jesus mentioned were able to do extraordinary stuff. They proclaimed a word from God (prophesying), casted out demons, and performed miracles of healing. It would be very hard to consider a person who could do such things as a false disciple. In my mind these would be signs that they had a close relationship with God—that they were the genuine article. I think Jesus wanted his followers to understand that these things are the evidence of a true disciple.
I don’t know how it is possible to fake those great accomplishments without having a relationship with God, but I do know that it is easy to fake the public side of ministry. It is easy for me to wow people with a great sermon, to write words that reflect Biblical teachings, and to have a “correct” theology to make the people at church believe that I know my Bible. It is possible to go through ministry without real faith in God.
Real faith makes us step out of our comfort zone to do the things that need to be done. Real faith surrenders our lives to God and allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives. Real faith is intentional about making changes to our life styles. Real faith is seen in our behavior. What makes a person a Christian is not a flourishing public ministry or correct theology, but a Christ-like life of faith which is expressed through our love for other people.
How does this apply to you and me? It is to easy to use this passage of Scripture to judge people who are not living up to our standards of what a Christian to be. While we need to be vigilant concerning our leaders and teachers, I think we need to approach this passage primarily as a warning for us.
Are we too wrapped up with what other people think about us? Do we put on a spiritual or religious mask in front of certain people so they will think we are good Christian people? Is part of our identity derived from being the spiritual person everyone talks about?
Being a follower of Jesus isn’t about doing “religious” activities and making other people believe that we are “spiritual” people. Being a follower of Jesus is about aligning our lives with God’s will, being guided the the Spirit, and living a life of faith and love. This is how we get to know Jesus, and it is how Jesus gets to know us.