“I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23)

These must be some of the most severe words ever uttered by Jesus.

How did Christians who addressed Jesus with the earnest “Lord, Lord”, or who did spectacular things in His name, end up receiving such a deathly pronouncement from Jesus on that day?

Weren’t they professing Christians? This is not in doubt, they’d heard Jesus’ words – they call Him “Lord”. Jesus is not talking about non-believers here. These people had done mighty acts of ministry: Prophesying, exorcism, divine healing, mass conversions. There is no denial here that such things were done.

It’s not wrong to profess one’s faith as a Christian. In fact, we ought to! Baptism calls for such profession of faith. And concerning mighty acts, who should deny the Spirit if it chooses to work mightily through you?

But crucially, we may do all these and miss the most important thing: Jesus wants us, above all, to take our relationship with Him seriously.

It is possible for two persons to be married to each other, yet practically live as two strangers under one roof! That’s not what God wants for us. We are called to be sons and daughters of God; we are meant to be the Bride of Christ.

He wants us to know Him, and be known by Him.

“If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

If we reject His Word and grieve His Spirit, we effectively treat Him as a stranger. In which case, what else should Jesus say other than “I never knew you”?

If we knew Him, we would take His Word seriously. If we say that we belong to Him, we must show it with our lives. We would honour Him with all of our being – not only with our words but also with our thoughts and actions.

If we knew Him, we would nurture our relationship with Him, making Him the centre, the foundation of our lives – building your house upon rock. Our lifestyle must be patterned after Him.

If we reject His Word and grieve His Spirit, we effectively treat Him as a stranger. In which case, what else should Jesus say other than “I never knew you”?

Jesus says that many will receive this shocking rebuke from Him on that day. His warnings are directed at Christians who have been living divided lives.

Take Jesus seriously. Take your relationship with Him seriously. Take His Word seriously.

Take time off from your work, and spend an hour with your Father in secret. Read, reflect and pray through the Sermon on the Mount. And rest in this blessed promise:

But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:3)

This article was first published on the Zion Bishan Bible-Presbyterian Church website and republished with permission.