Matthew 7:21-23 contains one of the most frightening prophecies and the most chilling words from Jesus in the entire Bible.
“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. 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?’
Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you…’
Jesus begins by saying that doing the will of Our Father in Heaven is crucial. But he goes on to say even that is not enough.
Put aside the strangeness of God knowing everything and yet saying there is something – or someone – that He doesn’t know. What is Jesus saying here? The Greek word which is translated “knew” in this verse is the same word Jesus uses when John quotes him in his Gospel.
John 10:14. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”
The word is elsewhere used to mean “getting to know” or to “become known,” as where one person gets to know another personally.
It sounds like I can know about Jesus and yet not know him personally. That gives me chills. I asked myself what can I do to avoid hearing Jesus say those words to me?
At the very least, as I would do getting to know another person, I think I should honestly tell him about myself. I should be candid and say what I think. I want to be corrected where I am wrong but I have to start with where I am. I’ve started doing that more. I don’t want to be impolite with Jesus. I want to show him the honor and respect he is due. But I don’t want to be a stranger wearing some kind of mask with him.
I recognize that communicating with the Lord involves using language and symbols. These are substitutes and pointers to reality. There is all the talk about love and then there is love, itself. The Lord communicates with me using language I can understand but I can also misunderstand it, even if what the Lord is telling me or pointing to is true. He starts with the symbols, but we must end up together at the Truth if either one of us is to be satisfied.
I think God struggles with this sometimes, too.
One of the interesting parables Jesus told was about a king inviting guests to a wedding banquet (Matthew 2:1-14). People receiving invitations to this banquet initially ignore or turn them down. The king orders his servants to bring in anybody they can find, good and bad. The king does not want any empty chairs to give an embarrassing impression. So at last the banquet hall is filled.
But then the king sees one person in the crowd not properly dressed and has him thrown out.
I think we are being shown that, although we are welcome to God’s kingdom, there are still some standards to meet.
I want to know Jesus well enough that I would get an invitation. I want to be quick to accept it. I want him to recognize me when I show up. I don’t want to get thrown out at the last minute as a stranger.
So, Jesus, let’s talk. A lot. With candor.
Let me introduce myself so you will know me when the time comes. Because I sure want to know you.