The number remains far too high of those who, like ancient Israel, “draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt. 15:8–9). Sadly, many today live the pretense of Christianity because they only have the pretense of reverence for God. They offer the words but lack the heart. That is not to say that they are emotionally detached; they are just emotionally attached to the wrong things. They feel like they love God, but they have not yet deepened that feeling to an abiding reverence for His holiness.
If we want life with God in eternity, we must live life for God in time. This is not a life lived by a checklist; it is a life lived by integrating God’s commands into our lives so much that it becomes our lifestyle (1 Jn. 2:3). As Jesus Himself said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Thus, if you would live for Christ, your speech should not be something you constantly have to check; it should be something that you permanently change. “Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh” (Jas. 3:12). Your worship should become an outgrowth of your love for God and love for truth (Jn. 4:24) instead of a chore or some cheap entertainment. A good life lived for God does not have to turn on spirituality Sunday morning because its light shines brightly all the time (Mt. 5:14-16). And all of this goodness, all of this living, is founded upon the grace of God, without which it would be meaningless (Eph. 2:8-10).
God wants so much for us. But for us to enjoy all that He offers, we must be willing to do what He requires. The greatest relationship available in eternity cannot be a one-sided affair. God knows what we can do. He knows what we can become. He knows what we have to offer. He knows our limitations, but He also knows our possibilities. He knows, because He created us. Thus, He never asks anything of us which we are not perfectly capable of fulfilling. He did not do so for Jesus, and He will not do so for us. Therefore, my friends, if we approach Jesus with low expectations for ourselves spiritually—low expectations for our growth, low expectations for our involvement, and low expectations for our commitment—we do not understand Jesus, and we do not understand discipleship.