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What’s It Gonna Take?

Click here to read Matthew 7 on BibleGateway.com

yawn4If you have ever been a youth pastor or teacher (or even perhaps a teenager yourself at some point in the distant past), you have seen the fascinating mating rituals of the Unattractive Male. It goes something like this: identify a prospective Attractive Potential Date; stare at APD from across the room; plan epic speech to win the heart of APD; begin to approach APD with eyes down and glances in all directions; take slight detour to barf in bathroom; return to proximity of APD; mumble sounds faintly reminiscent of human speech; run away. The UM may return at a later date with presents, or perhaps an amazingly terrible love note passed in class, but after repeated attempts have failed, they often abandon the quest with the futile question “What’s it gonna take?”

People who are new Christians or non-believers often ask “what will it take to get to heaven?” If you’ve been around church much, you’ll know the standard answer is “no works will get you to heaven, only a relationship with Jesus Christ.” And, as far as it goes, that’s true.

TELL ME YOUR NAME AGAIN…

But the next question is eventually, “ok, but how do I do that?” People want to be in a relationship with Jesus (or at least know they should be), but they don’t know exactly how that works. Do you just go to church? Do you just pray? Do you have to give a bunch of money to the church? Do you love other people? If you sin, does that rule you out? How much can you sin? What exactly does it take to make it?

In Matthew 7, we read one of the scariest verses in the entire Bible. Jesus says,

  • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one 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 in your name perform many miracles?’Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Think about that. Can you imagine getting to heaven after a lifetime of preaching, healing people, even driving out demons, and hear Jesus say “and…who are you again?” Ouch. If you ever draw a sense of comfort from the idea that you’re the leader of the worship team, or the head of the Women’s Ministry, or you give to the poor, and so you must be ok for heaven; think again.

A COMMAND I GIVE TO YOU…

So, if doing all this work for Jesus doesn’t cut it, what does? Yes, reading your Bible is an important part; praying is important; loving your neighbor is important. But Jesus clarifies things for us: “Only the one who does the will of my Father.” Simply put, the ones who obey. Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands.”

It sounds a little too legalistic for our modern ears, but there it is. You cannot separate the concept of love for God and obedience. You cannot love Jesus and know Him unless you follow His commands. (And of course, that means you have to read the Bible, otherwise, how will you know what the commands are?)

Jesus gave around 50 different commands in the New Testament; how many do you know? If you really want to get close to Jesus, to know Him, to hear “well done, good and faithful servant” when you see Him, then you know what you need to do. The challenge for today is to find ten commands of Jesus in the gospels, and see if you can keep just those ten this week (or at least attempt to.) Obedience starts with knowing what to obey.

Then Love and Know Him to the best of your ability today.

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