“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 in heaven.” – Matthew 7:21
Clearly, this text is not meant to be a tool for a verbal slinging match between those who think others are hypocrites and those who think not. The text has one point to make and one point alone. It is not about what you say but what you do; or in simpler language, do you put your money where your mouth is? If you want to know what you truly believe, you only need to examine your behaviour. If you truly believe that Jesus is Lord then does it show in your actions?
So let us look at this text in its context and not misrepresent what God wants to say to us in Advent. The text forms part of the first of Matthew’s great sermons. The Sermon on the Mount begins in chapter five with Jesus addressing the twelve and ends in chapter seven with Jesus address the crowds of disciples (7:28). The words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, challenging as they were, did not drive away the crowds but drew more in. That’s the power of speaking the truth with love.
In the text of today, Jesus is addressing the crowds and by extension all of us. He reminds us that ‘not EVERYONE who says to him, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Clearly Jesus is not implying you can’t pray if you don’t do his fathers will. Jesus is not imposing a ban on prayer but a course correction for worshippers. This text must not be read as a restriction but rather than permission to do more!
Look carefully, Jesus is directing this bit of information to those who turn TO HIM in prayer; he says, “not EVERYONE who says to ME.” These two words EVERYONE AND ME needs a bit of clarification. Jesus is not disparaging prayer. Prayer is not a duty it’s a privilege. Prayer is not an option, it’s our lifeline. Prayer is not our spare tire, it’s our steering wheel. You must and should go to the Lord and cry out to him several times shouting LORD, LORD! But here is the point; What Jesus is doing is encouraging a life of prayer that ought to be on par with his Father’s will. He is encouraging us to match what we say with what we do. He is calling us to do both not either or.