Jesus tells a story about sheep, goats and judgment toward the end of the book of Matthew. It’s a story about two groups of people. Each group say they believe. Now they’re being judged.
It wasn’t a good day for one group.
Basically, the story tells us that Jesus is walking around all the time in a distressing disguise (thumbs up to Mother Theresa). He’s disguised as someone hungry, someone thirsty, someone without clothing, someone sick, and someone in prison.
And for those who notice him, feed him, gave him a drink, clothe him, nurse him and visit him there’s a kingdom waiting for them. And for those who don’t notice and care there’s eternal punishment.
It’s a hard, hard story. In the narrative people argue about the decision reached. “Hey, when did we ever see you hungry, thirsty, naked, sick or imprisoned?” And Jesus basically says “ If you would have opened your eyes for half a minute you would have seen me. Come on there’s people in need all around you and if there aren’t you don’t have to go very far to find someone. You didn’t do. I’m sorry. Some of you are in. The rest of you aren’t.”
This all throws me for a loop. I don’t like it. It puts responsibility on my shoulders. It makes me realize God isn’t messing around. I’ve got to do more than go around singing “This little light of mine …” He’s saying there’s a role He wants me to play and it’s a non-negotiable.
Some people might say. Well, it sounds like God is saying ‘you’ve got to earn your way into heaven.” I don’t think so.
I think we can always hang our hats always on the doctrine of grace and its message of unmerited favor.
The whole counsel of God reminds us, though, that when we belong to Him that people will be able to look at how we act and see someone who cares. Grace filled action accompanies real faith.
I preached all this on Sunday.
Yesterday, I was driving down the highway in the heart of Chicago.. I was late for a meeting. There was car on the side of the road. Abandoned. A quarter mile ahead there were five people walking down the busy road carrying a gas container.
I almost stopped but didn’t. I almost decided to take a 15 minute detour to go back and offer a ride. But I didn’t.
Funny thing. I was rushing to talk with someone about helping those in need.