21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Over the years, I have met a lot of people who confess faith in the gospel. And though many of them will embrace “faith by grace”, I have found there remains a lot of confusion about how to exactly the doctrine grace operates in our delay life. There are two common perversions of grace. One makes too little of it and one makes too much of it; one says that though there is grace there is still EVERYTHING to do, and the other says that because of grace there is NOTHING do…ever. The fault of both is, at the core, a similar problem with heart motivation. Both are thinking more about themselves, what they have to do or not do, than they are about what Christ has done. One is self-righteous while the other is self-absorbed and though they claim to be Christians, neither truly knows Christ or loves him at all–at least not more than they love themselves..
So where is all of this going?
Yesterday, I was running (moving my legs fast while trying not to suffocate) and listening to a sermon by Tim Keller. I rarely listen to sermons of my contemporaries because I am always tempted to play the compare game. Tim Keller is no contemporary. And because he is old, brilliant, and gifted, I”m convinced I will never play in his leagues–compared to Keller, I will always be Junior Varsity. Having accepted that reality, I find deeply rewarding to listen to him.
His sermon was a review of what he had been teaching in Romans 6, 7, and 8. I don’t exactly what the title is, but what I am about to paraphrase is all from him. He recounted a familiar story about Jesus, one that is not found in the Bible (so don’t look for it), useful for challenging our motivations for why we follow Jesus. Here is the story:
Jesus ask his disciples, “Who will carry a stone for me?”
All the disciples agree that they will, and they all proceed to pick up different size rocks. Peter, being a bit more clever than the others, picks up a small pebble of a stone and slips it in his pocket. With rocks i two, the disciples follow Jesus across the countryside until it is dusk. They stop, set up camp, wondering what they are going to eat.
Jesus says to his disciples, “Hold out your stone.”
They all do and Jesus miraculously turns them all to bread. Most of the disciples eat and are satisfied. Peter, snacking on his pebble-sized stone, goes to bed hungry. The next morning, they break camp. Before they are about to leaving, Jesus again says, “Who will carry a stone for me.”
This time, a bit wiser, Peter finds the largest boulder he can carry. He lifts it on his shoulder and follows Jesus across the countryside. Near the end of the day, Jesus leads them to the side of a river. He then tells his disciples to throw their stones into the water. They all do. Then Jesus proceeds to walk.
Tired and still quite hungry, Peter gets upset about what just happened. Knowing his heart, Jesus turns to Peter and asks, “Who were you carrying the stone for?”