I was sitting in church yesterday – my mind not truly focused on being “in” the moment, rather on how Carol (my new daughter for the year) was faring. She has never been to church before and I could only imagine what was going through her mind. I know that English can be difficult for her to understand when people are speaking too fast – and let’s face it…99.9% of us speak faster than necessary. Especially when we’re passionate about the subject we’re talking about…
But somewhere, amidst all the jumbling thoughts in my mind, I heard God talking. Now, I’m not one to preach and be pious, but yesterday’s message really tugged at me. Though the main focus of the sermon was about the homeless, I believe the message was much more universal and applies to all aspects of life.
The main passage was the parable about the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46).
31″When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All 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. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34″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. 35For 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, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40″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.’
41″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. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I 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.’
44″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?’
45″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.’
46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
As followers of Christ, it is our CALL to notice those in need and to ACT without calling attention to ourselves.
I believe that in order for us (followers) to be sheep, we must also perform our acts of kindness with a pure heart. We should seek to serve without anticipating and expecting recognition for our deeds. Our hearts should be humbled and open to being truly Christ-like in our actions. Rather than running our old, tattered clothing to Goodwill for the tax write-off – we need to step back and ask ourselves why. Why are we “donating” our items? Is it to clear room in the garage? To purge our closets filled to excess? Are we donating with a humble heart? Is this something I would want to give to God? Because if we were, I bet you money that people would think twice before donating their items.
I think it is all too easy for us to get caught up in our own worlds…we are selfish by nature. Rarely do we ever act before thinking: would this be pleasing to God? Kids – we have to remember that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Christ. And perhaps the next time you pass that stranger on the street, you act without thinking because you, you ARE a sheep.
P.S. If you truly want a change of heart…read “Under the Overpass”…it’ll blow your mind to see how we treat one another. I’m sure God’s heart is breaking.