January 4, 2021
Not everyone who calls out to me, “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. Matthew 7:21 NLT
How many friends do you think Billy Graham had? How many people laid claim to knowing him? People tend to draw significance from their attachment or connection with someone important, and often exaggerate how deep the connection is. For instance, I could say, “Oh, yes—it was my privilege to meet Dr. Graham. Charlie and I were with him and a group of people in Cincinnati, and then again in Florida.” Well, that would all be truth with a generous definition. We did see Dr. Graham, and we were introduced to him with two groups of about 500 other pastors in Cincinnati and Florida. We “knew” him, of course, but he didn’t know us. Many people laid claim to knowing him, but their knowledge was the same as ours—superficial and relatively meaningless.
The people who meaningfully knew Dr. Graham were revealed on March 2, 2018 at his memorial service in Charlotte, North Carolina. There was only room for 2,000 people to attend. Attendees had to have received and then present a personal invitation, indicating that their relationship was indeed real. Some folks who pretended to have a relationship with the evangelist were outed on that day.
Jesus said that many people pretend to have a relationship with Him. They call him “Lord” and speak as though they are on close terms with Him. But like me with Dr. Graham, they have seen and observed from a distance. They have some familiarity with His reputation and work, but to say they have a relationship that Jesus would claim is way off the mark. Not everyone who says they know Jesus and that they are a Christian will enter the kingdom of heaven. They don’t have the credentials of a real relationship. Jesus Himself said that the sign and seal of truly knowing Him is doing the will of our Father in heaven.
We can talk big about a relationship that is minimal. We can fool many people and sound spiritual and important. But there’s a real requirement to getting into the kingdom of heaven, and a day is coming when we, Jesus, and everyone else will know whether or not we have met it.
Not everyone will get in. Only those who are disciples. Only those who do the will of God.
- Jesus, You know if my talk is bigger than reality. Truly, I know too. Help me be a person of integrity and live the way I want people to think I do. Amen.