Friday, March 8, 2019

EmmDev 2019-02-28 [Sermon on the Mount] The bottom line

The bottom line

The last relationship that comes up in Matthew 7 is a challenging one... Jesus, having spoken about judgementalism, toxic people and manipulative people talks about the danger of substituting activity for relationship. In this area we can easily be fooled and we can easily fool ourselves.

One of the things one of my earliest mentors said to me was that it was "easy to be so busy with the things of the Lord that we forget the Lord of the things." This is particularly true for those involved in active Christian ministry. Sermon prep is not the same as a time spent in personal Bible reading and reflection (a "Quiet Time") and prayers in the service or with people are not a substitute for a personal conversation with Jesus.

The example Jesus gives is striking: Here are people driving out demons and performing miracles and they are doing it in the name of the Lord. Two things are happening here: Firstly there is much that can be achieved by the power of human charisma - a stirring sermon can bring many people forward in an altar call, but sometimes people are responding to the preacher rather than to the Spirit. Secondly, God is merciful, He lets His grace (healing, miracles, exorcism) flow through broken and cracked vessels - He can work past our egos for the good of those who need His help. Paul hints at this in Philippians 1:18 where he notes that even though some preach out envy and rivalry, but he still rejoices that Christ is being preached.

There are two things that are central and form the bottom line:

  1. Are we doing the will of the Father?
  2. Do we know Him?

Every day there are many things that we can do. Many of these are noble and good. Not all of them are the will of the Father. More than our activity, the Lord wants us to have a personal relationship with Him.

The danger with frantic activity as that the "things of the Lord" become more attractive than the Lord of the things. And just because our activity seems fruitful, that doesn't make it good. He's asking us to prioritise our relationship with Him. Who knows? We might end up doing less, or doing other things, or we may do the same things with a new heart.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he 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 perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'      (Matthew7:21-23)