Gospel Lesson for 11/22/20.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; 36I was naked and you gave me clothing; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
I confess. The passage for this Sunday is one of the most difficult 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, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:41-45.
I have a friend who dedicated his life to prison ministry after reading this very passage as a new Christian. He has ministered to hundreds. My cousin spent years in mission work with Venezuelan tribal people, translating, teaching the Bible and ministering. A woman I met last year felt called to give up everything, get in her car and go. She didn’t know where. She ended up founding an organization that helps FLDS survivors in Colorado City. These people are an inspiration. They will surely be invited to “Come, inherit.”
In their shadow, in light of all that is wrong in this world, I struggle. Every time I pass somebody at an intersection looking for money, or learn of impoverished children walking miles for a pail of unsafe water I cringe at my own failure to solve their poverty. When I hear about tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes and don’t sign up to go help out at the gymnasium where relief efforts are in place, I feel guilt pangs as if I caused the disaster. I can’t even sit through the ASPCA commercial filled with pitiful starving animals covered in flies without turning away and hating that I didn’t cut a large check.
Should I advocate more for the oppressed? Become more politically savvy and involved? Should I switch careers or join an organization? Go on every mission trip? When is it enough? Give until it hurts they say. But does that mean I have to say yes to every pair of sad eyes, every growling tummy, every request to get involved or contribute or write my congressman?
I truly struggle. Have I starved my own Lord and Savior? Have I failed to entertain angels, confining them to some prison I cannot imagine?
There is a wonderful song by Matthew West called “Do Something.”
“Well I just couldn’t bear the thought,
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me.
I shook my fist at Heaven,
Said, “God why don’t you do something?”
He said, “I did, yeah, I created you.”
The Bible is not silent about God’s concern for the oppressed, orphaned, hungry, outcast. He walked a mile in their shoes and gave his life so that all people can have equal share in the bounties of heaven. That is how much he loves. We are to love that way as well. But it is hard. How does one decide who and how to help?
Perhaps the answer lies not in what I can do better, but in how I can love better. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. He gave until it hurt. And that was love. God doesn’t weigh the matters. He simply loves. That kind of love is hard for human beings, but out of it comes the kind of charity that God seeks from us. The kind that doesn’t ask “How much more?” The kind that sees others through God’s eyes and puts others first. The kind that knows that a smile, a word, a meal, or a ministry are all valuable when it is love that drives us and the Spirit that guides us to simply do all that we can with what we have because God created us to do something.
e-Devotion author: Bobbie Tomasek.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602.866.9191.
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.