There is another passage that deals with judgment that we have used as a means to define a transition from our identity in Matthew 9:9-13 and Mark 2:13-17 to moving ourselves as well as those we serve into a life of discipleship, and into a life of encountering God on a daily basis. Don't let that last part slip past you, ENCOUNTERING GOD ON A DAILY BASIS. I said yesterday that I didn't have an authoritative take Matthew 7: 21-23, but that we had some good ideas in addressing it that we were confident with. I also listed the things that those crying out to the Lord claimed to have done in His name, "prophesying, casting out demons, and performing miracles," and that I myself have done none of the above. Despite that, there is this passage that we have or are working to embrace wholeheartedly (Matthew 25:31-46). It is the working out and living out of our faith...
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Prophesying? Casting out demons? Performing miracles? Not this week. Literally feeding, watering, inviting, clothing, visiting the sick, the prisoner....the widow, the orphan, the destitute, the drunk, the drugged, the abused...that is a near daily occurrence here. Before most of you had your mid morning coffee yesterday, almost all of these things were done. When is the last time you have been able to say this? And I'm not talking about writing a check to a charitable cause, but rather getting your hands dirty with "the least of these". This is what Jesus is using as His measuring stick at judgment in this passage. As a matter of fact, I would argue that the fulfillment of the Greatest Commandment can be found in living this out.
Do I tell you these things to boast? Absolutely not, but rather to illustrate that we have hit on something pretty spectacular and special here. We have found a place where you can come and live out your faith, a place where it is the norm for the served and server to be transformed. Our faith is not a once a week thing, occasionally lived out in short bursts beyond Sunday morning; this is a place where the rubber meets the road; it is our identity. We aren't necessarily looking for new members (although we'd certainly take you lol), but rather folks to share in these opportunities with us. We want to share our embarrassment of riches. We have seen it time and time again...people come here to serve others and they in turn are the ones that are served.
You want to see God? To experience God? Do you want Jesus to proclaim on the day of your judgement, "I know you, we've spent a lot of time together."? You will truly find Him in the least among us, whether it is here or elsewhere. This is a lesson that I have had to learn, of learning to truly take God at His word, that if you want to hang out with Him, your best, most reliable bet is to find Him with the people He likes to hang out with. Strange concept, huh? We tend to find God amongst those who need Him the most. If His followers want to find Him, well, He's already told us where He'll be. It is a lesson that I am truly thankful and joyous to have learned.
We truly are one of the most fortunate Churches you will ever see.
Tomorrow I will tell you why :)
Tomorrow I will tell you why :)