Summary: We need to get back to the first-century approach to our walk with the Lord, caring for each other, loving each other, each individual Christian doing whatever he or she can for any child of God.
Other Scripture used:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen. (Psalm 19:14)
In our Gospel today, Jesus is turning people away in heaven who claim to know him and his teachings. Their claims of meal sharing, hearing his teachings, and invoking Jesus name on behalf of their actions, reminds me of some of the problems the Body of Christ faces today.
We’re saved not by doing good works, but by really knowing Jesus, walking with him, accepting him as leader of our lives. “Doing things in his name” is not the same as doing what he commands us to do.
We see church leaders, clergy included, doing what they feel “enlightened, progressive” Christians should do, then demanding that God bless their actions and that all of us have to accept the results of their actions because they’re doing it all in the name of Jesus.
It’s almost as though they believe that if they do something in Jesus’ name, then he’s stuck with it, whether he agrees with the action or not.
Our actions come from our hearts, but our actions alone don’t fulfill God’s commands to us. God says to love others as much as we love ourselves.
If we give money and possessions to the poor but still despise them, we’re merely doing good works. We haven’t brought our hearts closer to Jesus. In fact, if we resent having to do those works, we’re actually pushing our hearts further away from Jesus by doing them.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do those good deeds; it means we need to get our hearts right as well as our actions.
God’s greatest commandment to us is to love him with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, and with all our strength. His second greatest commandment to us is that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
When our hearts are with Jesus, the Holy Spirit fills us with his love for us and others. It overflows from us because we can’t contain God’s Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit is not meant to be contained. Like a perpetual stream, the Holy Spirit flows into us, through us, and then out of us.
We’re like broken vessels through which God’s grace and spirit pour out.
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it; and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one-and-a-half pots of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made.
But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."
"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"
"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts," the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.
But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it.
“I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."