I don’t have any answers today…only questions.
Is the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus talks about in these chapters the same thing as eternal life? Or is it different?
Apparently there is a distinction; in John 3:16, we know that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but shall have eternal life.”
Then, in Matthew 7, Jesus teaches:
21 “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. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
I suppose it can be said that the will of the Father is for us to believe in the Son…but we also are held accountable to keep God’s laws.
I guess I am confused because yesterday’s teaching from Jesus showed that God is more concerned with mercy than with being legalistic…but this particular translation of Matthew shows that those who do not keep God’s laws will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
It is clear that following Jesus is not just a matter of the mind and the heart; it is also a matter of action. Obedience is rather hard when a person sits on the sidelines all the time!
Which brings me back to another teaching that struck me…I think Jesus wants us to be open about our obedient actions. We are not to be bashful or ashamed when we make choices that honor the Lord. Does peer pressure ever tempt us to hide under a bushel instead of “coming out” as a Christian? At a dinner party, when the guests start making fun of Christians, do we laugh politely and then change the subject?
I tend to be a wallflower in life! May the Lord give me boldness and courage to shine…not so that attention is placed on me, but so it is placed on Him, for His glory. I wouldn’t call Jesus a wallflower by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, He was the Life of the party, wasn’t He? And He tells us to follow him…which means we are to also step out and be a light and life and salt in a confused, darkened world.