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.”
Matthew 25:38 – 40 NIV
March 28, 2011
I met Jesus the other day; He was using the name Bill. There he was in the produce department of the grocery store Butera. He was tall, medium built, in his 80’s, had some hearing and memory loss and looking for some garlic. He picked up a cluster of garlic cloves and they didn’t look good to me, so I stopped him and told him they were bad. He asked me which ones I thought were good, so I chose a bunch and handed them to him. I then turned to walk away. I was in a hurry, I had to get home and get ready for my last class of the winter session at Seminary. I took two steps when he asked me how I knew the garlic I chose was good. That was how he initiated our conversation, and from there I learned about his wife, daughter, and his son-in-law. I heard of where he traveled, what foods he liked, and before long he even told me his address. Then he invited me to come to his house and meet his wife and told me to bring my husband. All of that took about 30 minutes because he kept forgetting what he was saying and I had to remind him. I actually thought for one fleeting moment that maybe I could tell him he said goodbye and then slip away; but then the Holy Spirit convicted me not to do that. So I stood there talking to Bill as the precious moments of the day slipped away.
There are so many needs in this world that it is hard to decide which ones should come first. The list of who to care for and what should be done is endless. The harsh reality of life tells us that we should not invite strangers into our homes, but what about into our churches? What does your church do to help those in your community? Do you have people who drive around and pick up the homeless and/or offer to assist them? Is there a safe place to take them, where they can get food and shelter and medical attention if needed? What about those in prison? Put aside the fact that they deserve to be there, is there anyone in your church who visits them? Who brings to them the good news of the gospel? Does anyone in your church visit the senior citizens at home or in centers? Make hospital visits? What do you do as an individual? There are some things you can’t and shouldn’t do alone but there is safety in numbers. With just a few of you, a lot can be done and the list of those in need can be eliminated.
Today’s verses speak about slowing down, taking our time and giving it to someone who needs it. I want you to open your Bibles and go to the Book of Matthew, chapter 25, and start to read at verse 31.This is the parable about the sheep and the goats and the end time when the Son of Man comes in His glory. Jesus is saying that He will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep belong to Him but the goats don’t. Then Jesus explains the actions of the sheep compared to the actions of a goat. Jesus is teaching us that sheep, one of His own, will behave in a very loving way and will take care of those who are in need. When we do that we are actually taking care of Jesus. This is how He views it! By the way, one of the differences between a sheep and a goat is their natural behavior. A sheep has a flock mentality and feels anxiety when separated from the flock. A goat, on the other hand, prefers to live life alone and fending for itself to get food. When a predator comes around a goat is the easier target because of their solidarity; there is safety in a flock. Jesus says that those who belong to Him are His sheep (John 10). If we are His sheep and we do know His voice, we then will want to behave like sheep. The sheep in this parable are those who do for the least of their brothers. This action of doing comes not from a sense of responsibility or a requirement. It comes from our love we have for Jesus and for others.
I do want to add that there are many times I behave more like a goat than a sheep. I am not proud of nor do I ever want to be a goat again. I behave like a goat when I give in to my sinful fallen nature. We don’t have to be a slave to sinful nature, we are God’s children and through the Holy Spirit we have the strength and the power to reject sin. We can choose to be a slave to God and allow His love and grace to flow from us. When that occurs, we love and show grace to others. This is what Jesus wants us to do and this is what He expects us to do. This is when we become His sheep. This is what I always want to be and this is what I pray we as His church will be together. I want us to reform our churches and make positive changes and make a difference in this world. Start by making a difference in your own community.
I met Jesus the other day; He said His name was Bill.
In His love,