Read Matthew 7:21-23
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.’ (NLT)
We can go to lots of Christian conferences. Whilst there we can be inspired and instructed. Christian living seems so much more possible and desirable. And depending on the conference, it can also seem a lot more straightforward and clearer. Some conference speakers seem to imply that if certain formulae are followed then all will turn out well.
It is only after the conference that we discover it isn’t always that simple. We may be tempted to give it all up because the promised simplicity and clarity didn’t come our way. In such cases, the fault is with the individual who promised what our faith can’t deliver.
It isn’t always simple or clear to obey Jesus. Our passage reminds us we are to put our words into practice: not just get inspired and worked up at dazzling conferences. The test of our faith is not how many conferences we attend but how we live out the words of Jesus.
And here even Jesus reminds us that it isn’t always easy or clear. Some will appear to be our Christian colleagues when they are not. We practise our obedience amidst a landscape of mess and mystery. We face hard decisions; we come to different conclusions to that of our fellow Christians. What seemed clear in the conference auditorium is not so clear out in the real world.
Just as well that we don’t need more conferences to keep ourselves obedient. It is the Spirit of God who is there for us in the mess and the mystery. He doesn’t tidy up the mess or clear up the mystery. He just keeps pointing us in Jesus’ direction. It is enough.