For the Christian, the college years are often marked by grand desires to change the world in the name of Jesus and to dream of the impact you could have during your time on earth. It is a time filled with ministry opportunities and therefore marked by busyness for many young people who don’t want to waste any ministry opportunity in their path.
But doing things for Jesus cannot and should not be your primary goal. If it is, you have sidelined the only work that truly matters: knowing God through Jesus, His Son.
Workers of Lawlessness
Jesus’s description of the good people in Matthew 7 is haunting:
“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. 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?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness'” (Matt. 7:21–23).
It’s a terrifying section of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus exposes the lie that good behavior and right theology alone can save you. Here is a list of characteristics of the above group of people:
They call Jesus “Lord.”
They prophesy in His name.
They cast out demons in His name.
They do mighty works in His name.
They weren’t known by Jesus.
They are workers of lawlessness.
They are denied access to Jesus.
It’s hard to believe that all those attributes could belong to same group of people. How can someone who rightly believes Jesus is Lord be a worker of lawlessness? How can someone doing mighty works for Jesus be denied access to Him? Because of one simple and profound reason: They did not know Jesus.
The conclusion? Knowing Jesus is far more important than doing for Jesus.
We Prefer Doing to Knowing
The problem is that doing for God is often so much more fun than knowing God. It allows us to see ourselves in action, to feel important and valuable. Though our desires to change the world in the name of Jesus are likely well-intentioned, they often reek of self-importance.
But here’s the truth:
Doing for God accentuates our abilities; knowing God highlights His.
Doing for God makes us feel productive; knowing God drains our time.
Doing for God is seen by others; knowing God rarely is.
Doing for God is quantifiable; knowing God is not.
Doing for God garners praise from many; knowing God grants us the affirmation of just One.
It’s no wonder we struggle to find time to sit alone with the Almighty but quickly say “yes” to ministry opportunities. One amplifies the flesh; the other kills it. And who enjoys dying?