Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Religion

Jesus told a story about the final judgment In Matthew 25:31-46.
"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. "And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been 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; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' "Then they themselves also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

We are probably familiar with the imagery he gave of sheep and goats. He rewarded the sheep for doing good deeds to Him, while the goats were destroyed for failing in these same deeds. This morning I saw this in a new light.

It is a strong temptation to see the list of things done by the sheep and then engage in those activities. We may even work hard to remember while doing it, “I am serving Jesus.” However, the sheep had no idea at all that they were doing these deeds for Jesus. I wonder if Jesus’ point is that they did these things without the slightest inclination that they were religious activities. The goats seem to be flabbergasted that Jesus points to a religious failure. They ask, “When did we see You, and fail to serve?” The sheep, on the other hand, thought that they had not done anything religiously. They ask, “When did we see You and serve You?”

The difference between the sheep and the goats seems to be found in the fact that the sheep have joined the secular and the spiritual in a simple life. The goats, still trapped in their ritualism, seek to get the religious elements of life right. It may be that the Christian is not the person who smiles at the homeless man as a witness to the love of Christ. Instead, the Christian may be the man who smiles at the homeless man just because he loves people. He isn’t trying to live the Christian life, he is just living. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20-21

1 comment:

Bonnie Mowry said...

Another Ah-Ha moment! Thanks, Vince!

About Me

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I have been a PCA pastor since 1993, having been a pastor in Arizona, Florida, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and as the Team Leader for MTW’s work in Scotland. I am currently the Senior Pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church in York, PA. As a pastor, my desire is to help everyone I meet live out Psalm 73:25, “Whom have I in Heaven but You, and besides You I desire nothing on earth.” I love my Wife Robin, my two sons, Patrick and Michael and my daughters in law, Britney and Emma.

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