“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Matthew 7:21.
Am I one of those people?
This is the type of verse that forces me to reflect, think and reason within myself. As I am grappling with this question, I am also in a fair amount of transition in my life. I have these ideas in my mind of what my life should look like at this point, but the reality is nothing like that. The truth is, I want my life to look a certain way. I want my dreams and plans to come true. I want my vision fulfilled. I want my will to be done. I want. I want. I want. Are you seeing a pattern here? I want my own will, rather than God’s will, to be done. I want my way.
My will, is for my life to matter. My will is to live a life of significance and honor. My will is to find a way to save myself. My will is to live a life so that I do not need saving. My will is to always do right in my own eyes. My own will, is always grasping for my own will, my own life, in my own way.
The thing about this verse is that it is not about my will at all. It is not about the things that I do that buy me a ticket into heaven. It is not about me at all. It is not about my will. It is all about God. My ticket, our ticket into heaven, is already bought and paid for.
Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 7:22, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'” The people in this verse, are doing things in the name of the Lord. But they do it to justify themselves before God and others.
When I do this, I do it to justify myself before God and others. I do it so my life will matter. We do these things so that our lives matter.
So we strive. We grasp. We go after things. We fight for things. We do right things and add them to our list of accomplishments and they become our line of defense when our character is attacked. We do them so we can stand before God and others and justify how good we are compared to other people. We do them so that we can announce to the world that we have no hate in us, and that we are not the haters the world claims us to be.
Yet, because of that striving, we have no peace, no joy, and no righteousness that only comes from God. This is a part of the kingdom of God, which is here, at present for us, right now. Those claiming the name of the Lord, the do-gooders of the world, cannot inherit the heavenly kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy (Romans 14:17), if we are constantly striving to make our own lives matter. The second we start grasping, striving and justifying ourselves, our own will, our own lives, we step out of God’s good grace.
Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever feel like you are constantly striving to make your own life matter? To God and to others? Do you find yourself doing “right” or “good” things so that you can get into heaven or others will think good of you? Do you justify your actions or behaviors so that you will not be called a hater? Are you lying to yourself about all of this, even right now?
If so, you are not alone! Me too! None of us are perfect. We all sin. We all miss the mark. We all fall short of what God expects from us. We all need a savior. We all need someone to rescue us from ourselves. That Savior is Jesus Christ. His grace is sufficient for us. He is our only hope and our only line of defense. The harder we try to justify the goodness of ourselves to the world, the less we look like Christ. The more we strive to prove that our lives matter and that we are not haters, the less we understand about the salvation of Christ.
Admittedly, I am a pitiful mess. Even with Christ, I clearly still sin, I still mess up, I still want my own will, my own life and I still fall short of the expectation. I still can’t seem to figure out how to help myself, let alone others. Even as a Christian, I do not have it all together. And I have no desire to pretend any longer. That is exactly what a hypocrite is. A pretender. A player on a stage who is performing. God does not want my do-everything-right performance on the stage of life, because quite frankly, that performance is not truthful. That kind of performance saves no one, including myself. God wants my heart and He wants yours too.
The good news is that we no longer have to perform for Christ or anyone else. The pressure is off and the gig is up. All we have to do is trust that God’s grace is sufficient for us and respond by living a grateful life, the best way we know how, until God faithfully shows us a better way. God is our hope, the only one who can truly make broken lives matter.