"And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you...'" Jesus of Nazareth.

Seems harsh, doesn't it? I mean, who in this world is perfect? Jesus will say this to "workers of lawlessness." (Matthew 7:23) The whole point of Him coming down and taking our guilt was that we, as humans (ergo, imperfect), could not possibly live up to even His most minimal standard of perfection. Some people who have believed themselves to be believers and will have even done good things in the name of Christianity will receive this statement! Why would He say this to those who had seemingly labored for the faith?

As we study further in the Word, we realize that when it comes to Jesus, it’s all about relationship, not religion.

"Jesus answered him, 'If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.'" (John 14:23)

At first glance, this verse seems to relay a message that if we do not follow certain "rules," the Father and Jesus His Son will not bother to have anything to do with us. I do not see it that way...

Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word..." When I was standing in front of my bride on that day, staring into the depths of her eyes, I knew that the vows I would take were not ones forced upon me by situation or outside influence; I was taking the vows because I love my wife. She is (and I say this without sarcasm and with total honesty) my better half. I do my best to keep faithful to the promises I made to her on that day because I love her, not because someone said I have to love her. So it is with the words Jesus spoke. To paraphrase: If anyone loves me because they truly do love me, they will want to keep my word because of that love... You see?

This can only lead to the conclusion that, just as it is between me and my beautiful wife, this is about relationship. Don't get me wrong: I uphold certain disciplines and guidelines. Why? Because they help me and others keep ourselves in shape. Why do bodybuilders keep to a certain schedule, routine, and to certain eating habits? If they do not, they will suffer negative outcomes and will not excel so far in their bodybuilding. Why do martial artists go to their schools and practice the forms over and over? One day, all that practice might come in handy outside that school. So it is with the disciplines and guidelines in our church.

It's all about relationship...

In this world lived two people, Tim and Kyle. Tim lived in the same city as Kyle, but not on the same street. Every day, Tim would get up, make himself presentable, and head off to work. He worked in a very large and tall building with more than a thousand people in it every day. Kyle worked in the same building. They parked in relatively the same area. At times, Tim and Kyle would see each other as they huddled into the elevator along with a minimum of three more people. As they rode the elevator, they never got to really know each other. Yes, they greeted each other at times, but never really talked. They each had their separate lives.

Tim had his birthday parties, his anniversaries, and his get-togethers with his close friends, and his various interests. Kyle also had the same---his interests, his passions, his goals. But these aspects of their lives never crossed with each other. If anything, their relation to each other was like the relation of the morning with the night---just a brief glimpse of each other before going on about their own business.

One day, Kyle got a massive promotion at work, and this became well known among the employees in this building. Kyle hit it big. He got a mansion, cars, land, money---everything! Tim heard about this, obviously. He didn't think much of it. He had his own house, his own cars, and his own land. Kyle was probably egotistical and selfish, anyway. Time went by, and so did their lives. Kyle kept rising in success and wealth, but for Tim it was a different story. It was a slow and gradual decline for Tim, and the time came when he had lost his home, his cars, his land, and everything that was dear to him.

Suddenly, Tim had an idea. He would go to Kyle! Yes! Wasting no time, Tim headed over there. With anticipation, he climbed the steps and approached the huge doors. The mansion was massive. Ringing the doorbell, he waited, eager to see Kyle.

Kyle opened the doors and met Tim's excited expression with a confused one. "Yes?" Kyle said.

"Kyle!" Tim exclaimed. "It's me, Tim! Look, I lost everything, but I'm sure glad I know you. I know all about you! How soon can I move in with you? I know you have cars, land, and probably an extra room or two!" Tim laughed at his own jest. His laughter very quickly faded, though... Kyle was looking at him with a mistrustful look in his eyes.

"Umm... I'm sorry about your loss, but I don't know you."

Tim flinched as the door was closed to him, even though it wasn't slammed...

What would you do if some random person, one with whom you have no relationship with, knocked on your door and announced that the two of you will be living together, and you were to provide everything for that person, free of charge? I don't expect that out of you, and I'm sure you don't expect that from me. Why do we persist in expecting the same from God? Is it because He has everything? Is it because we think we deserve something?

The Kingdom of Heaven is for those who want a relationship with the One who wants to give you everything for your good. Alas, many times we confuse the "good" with the "wants," just as a child would when shown a candy store (to use a classic metaphor, anyway). Whether we choose to accept the opportunity He has given us is up to us, but let's no go blaming Him for denying us when it is that time, because we are the ones who will have denied Him.

The "chooser" of your actions is you. For what it’s worth, He's still waiting...

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