"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matthew 7:21-23
Years ago when reading the above text, I skimmed over it thinking I already understood it. However, God told me that I did not really understand and made me read it again.
I thought God was speaking of knowing someone in a worldly sense, i.e. I know Melissa down at the grocery store. Yet, the knowing here is something much more deep and intimate. God is speaking of knowing us as a man knows His wife.
The big mystery of the ages is simply that God desires to have intimate communion with us. He wants to have fellowship with us on an individual and personal level so that we truly become one with Him as we are transformed by His Spirit. It is in His presence that we are revived and fulfilled. This requires that we spend quiet time alone with Him. Yet, that can be a very unnatural process for the flesh because it is the antithesis of what the flesh gravitates to. Hearing that still, small voice often requires us to be still and small.
Man's instinct is often to make things so complicated. As a result, it is easy to get drawn into a performance-based relationship with God. By performance-based, I mean that we subconsciously begin to look for something we can "do" or "know" which will make us acceptable to God. We have been trained all of our lives to believe that rewards come as a result of performance, so there is just an innate urge to DO something.
This performance mindset can come across in many ways, but usually winds up being manifested as legalism and bondage. Being in Jesus Christ becomes about the name I call Him, the day I worship, the clothes I wear, the knowledge I attain, the food I eat (or don't eat), the fellowship I attend (or don't attend), the missions I undertake, the offerings I make...
God is not interested in our acts of piety and righteousness. They are all to Him as filthy rags. In Matthew's text, Jesus describes those who have been running around doing many things, but have neglected that intimate time with Him. They are indeed performing many good works, but have not entered into the relationship God seeks.
The Father introduced Himself to Moses as "I Am that I Am". What a way to name yourself! God just exists; He simply is. And when we are in Him, we become the same. We just are. In Him we live, move and have our being. In Christ, we are freed from having to earn God's approval or perform for His pleasure. We simply rest in Him and let Him work through us. Although this is a simple truth, it is often one of the hardest for man to grasp.
Do you know why there is liberty in Christ? Because we are free to be who He has created us to be! Freedom because it is not about what we can do or what we know, but about who He is and what He is doing within us. We cannot initiate that work or even complete it. THAT is freedom, because there is no more performance.
No longer is there a division between us and God; no longer must we have a man go in to God on our behalf. The veil has been rent and we are able to approach the throne of grace with boldness. We do not have to live up to any man's expectations of who we should be. We only need to avail ourselves of our Heavenly Father, who has already made us accepted in the Beloved!
"Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42
Mary sat at Jesus' feet, and that was the good part which was needful.
How many times are we tempted to run around "doing" for Jesus, when what He truly desires is for us to sit at His feet and learn of Him? I am not speaking of being a lackluster believer with no works as evidence of faith. I am talking about putting first things first and having our priorities in order. Then, when works are being done, it is not us "doing", but God working through us. It may sound like splitting hairs, but there is truly a big difference between the two.
When our communion with God begins to be defined solely by what we do for Him, then we miss that which is needful. Don't neglect the good part.