“Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as ‘Lord’; but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” – Mark 7:21

In this verse Jesus challenges people at the very center of their faith. Anyone can “act” religious or say spiritual things, but have a void in their hearts towards developing a deep and abiding relationship with God Almighty. Having intimacy with God means that our thoughts, actions, prayers and attitudes are in alignment with His plan for our lives. Wow that is a real challenge for all of us.

A person who doesn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus may be able to say all the right things but lack the faith to live a Christ-centered life. The writers of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) emphasize Christ’s teachings related to hypocrisy. In Matthew Chapter 23 we read about the hypocrisy associated with the Pharisees and Sadducees. In Mark 3 we see Christ challenging other religious minded leaders about their hypocrisy and “hard-heartedness” regarding the healing of the sick during the Sabbath.

Continually Christ reminds us “our walk should match our talk”. An engraving on a cathedral wall in Germany bears these soul-searching words:

Thus speaketh Christ our Lord to us:
“You call me Master and obey me not;
You call me light and see me not;
Your call me the Way and walk with me not;
You call me life and live me not;
You call me wise and follow me not;
You call me fair and love me not;
You call me rich and ask me not;
You call me eternal and seek me not;
If I condemn you, blame me not.”

The more we learn about what God has done for us, the more we will want to know what we can do for Him. In addition, our motives will come from a pure heart, not from selfish ambition, guilt, or some church tradition. God is looking for genuine believers whose walk matches their talk. Let’s not say we love and then show disrespect to others. Let’s not say we care and then not show acts of kindness. Let’s not preach tolerance and then lack patience when dealing with complicated issues. Let’s not judge unless we want to be judged. Let’s try and keep His word central to our problem solving and relationships.

—Dr. Jim Grassi