Three things on my heart this week that I want to share with you from one of my favorite scriptures from Matthew 25:31-40.
#1 WHAT DID YOU DO FOR THE LEAST OF THESE?
This passage of scripture is one I clearly remember learning about when I was just a boy in Sunday school.
Jesus says, When the Son of Man comes in His glory it will be like a king who sits on his throne and on His right he’s going to have the sheep and on the left He’ll have His goats and He’s going to separate them and to the sheep He will say enter into the Kingdom that has been prepared for you from the foundation of the earth for when I was hungry you fed me and when I was thirsty you gave me drink and when I was a stranger you welcomed me and when I was naked you clothed me and when I was sick you comforted me and when I was in prison you came to me. And the righteous will answer, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison? And the King Jesus said, when you do it unto the least of these you do it unto me. –Matthew 25:31-40
As I got older, I grew to understand there was so much more being said in this incredibly important passage. When you read about entering the Kingdom of Heaven, notice that there is no mention of specific beliefs or statements of faith? It focuses on actions and the question, “what did you do for the least of these?” I think it’s important to note that we do not believe that works are what get you “saved,” but rather the grace of God. But, it does feel somewhat conflicting, doesn’t it? How we can begin to reconcile these two ideas?
#2 WHERE IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?
When Jesus talks about entering into the Kingdom I don’t think He’s talking here about a Kingdom of Heaven on the other side of death. Remember Jesus in His teachings said, The Kingdom of Heaven is drawing near. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. In the Wednesday Night Alive course that Rev. Wendy Lambert and I have been teaching on salvation, we have been exploring the fact that, we often think salvation is just about when we die and what’s eternal, but actually Jesus said it’s about nowas well as forever. Is it possible that when you and I live, so that we’re loving God and loving our neighbor, when we are doing it to the least of these, we begin to live in a relationship with Christ now? And as you live in that relationship with Christ now, you begin to live and love one another. It brings a joy and meaning to life.
I can’t help but think it isn’t about what we believe, what we confess or what we profess. We may disagree, but when we stay focused on our mission of sharing God’s love and bringing hope to the world, we experience the Kingdom of Heaven and there we find joy.
#3 BE THERE FOR ONE ANOTHER
As a boy growing up when I read this passage and memorized this verse I felt inspired to do good things. As an adult I have come to realize, maybe there was something even more than that; maybe it wasn’t just physical needs that Jesus was talking about. I began to see how often people are hungry to be loved or thirsty for a meaningful relationship. How many times have you felt like a stranger when nobody really knew you? How many times have you felt naked, vulnerable, afraid? How many times have you felt sick with no strength to go on? How many times have you felt you were in prison, locked up, no way to go? What we need in these moments is for others to stand with us, to reach out to love us and to be there to care. We can be there to love and care for one another, regardless of what we believe, when we love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. If we are there to love in those moments, we do it unto the least of these. We do it for each other for we all stand in need of one another. It’s what it means to be a family of faith.