Friday, December 1, 2017

Treat each other like Christ the King

All the nations will be gathered and each will be judged according to the way we have treated the most vulnerable among our populations.

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me… Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” Matthew 25:40,45
The judgment scene depicting the division of the sheep from the goats stands out among the several passages in the Bible pertaining to the judgment. This is a picture Jesus paints of himself as the one who is the judge, not only of individuals but of nations.

          He has sounded forth the trumpet
               that shall never call retreat;
          He is sifting out the hearts of men
               before His judgment seat;
          Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him!
               be jubilant, my feet;
          Our God is marching on.
(Julia W. Howe, Battle Hymn of the Republic, 1861)

     Jesus listed certain criteria for the Judgement.  Like a teacher getting students ready for a test, or a judge ordering preparation for further evaluation, the issues of concern are clearly presented.  At the Judgement of the Nations, all individuals and their constituency groups will be judged accordingly. The list can be summed up with the Golden Rule:

          Do for others what you want them to do for you:
          this is the meaning of the Law of Moses
          and of the teachings of the prophets.
Matthew 7:12 (GNT)

     Jesus elevated this universal concept with his command to love others not only as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40), but as Christ loves us (John 13:34-35).  Jesus provided us the checklist of what is going to be included on the final examination. True, there are other matters of great importance to us and to others in life. Our various theological perspectives emphasize our views and understandings.  How we live out our beliefs reflects our spirituality.  Yet, the topics on this list are the subjects Jesus is looking at most closely as he examines our consciences with us. They form the basis for the judgment of our nations, our communities, our organizations, our congregations, our families, our relationships, and our souls. 

·         Hungry
·         Thirsty
·         Stranger
·         Naked
·         Sick
·         Imprisoned

     How do we answer for our part in the decision-making processes that affect people in these situations? How do we justify our thoughts and our prayers and our voices and our votes? The Bible makes clear that we are accountable as citizens, members, and individuals for our roles in either alleviating or causing the suffering of others. Banding together does not reduce our personal responsibility or culpability, either in active harm or passive neglect. Nor does cooperation diminish our personal joy and eternal reward, either in active assistance or passive support.

     At the end of the day (Judgment Day), it doesn't really matter what everybody else thinks. It matters what Jesus thinks. Christ is looking at us, and has these expectations of us. God is leading us to more purely and perfectly reflect the love of Christ in the way we treat the people around us.

Derived from the sermon on Matthew 25:31-46, November 26, 2017 at Briensburg UMC.

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