“Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’ Matthew 7:21-23 (MSG)


If you have ever been late for a connecting flight at an airport, you know the sinking feeling you experience when you realize you might miss the plane. Even with your best intentions to get to the plane on time, sometimes it is not possible. The thing that is even worse is when you can see the plane sitting outside the airport window, but they have already closed the door. We don’t like to miss out.

When Jesus was teaching the people, he was addressing an audience that was religious. They followed the religious protocol down to the details. It was important that they abide by all of the guidelines on the Sabbath in order to be validated in the meeting place. Yet, Jesus, in his love and compassion, could see right through it. He was concerned that people were associating with God for the social status without their heart being connected to God. It’s kind of like when we slap the title of Christian on ourselves only when it is socially acceptable. Maybe it is time to take a personal inventory. For me, it is so easy to get caught up in ministry that the “why” behind the “what” gets lost. It’s not about doing things in Jesus’ name for their own sake. It is about having our heart so connected and in love with Jesus that we are not trying to make ourselves important through our works. Works are simply an overflow of our heart. In Acts 13:37-39 (MSG), Paul addressed Jews in a meeting place saying, “I want you to know, my very dear friends, that it is on account of this resurrected Jesus that the forgiveness of your sins can be promised. He accomplishes, in those who believe, everything that the Law of Moses could never make good on. But everyone who believes in this raised-up Jesus is declared good and right and whole before God.” The simplicity of the gospel message is that Jesus paid the price for our sins. When we try to take the cause of Christ and use it for our own benefit, we miss the heart behind the message. I don’t want to be someone who fills a pew every Sunday for the sake of taking up a seat and miss the message of Jesus. When it is all said and done, I want to know that I loved Jesus and shared his truth with others. If we keep our focus on the “why,” then when this life comes to an end, we can be confident that our lives are a living testimony of Jesus’ power to save.

Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002.  Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.