WEEK SEVEN, DAY ONE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK SEVEN THEME: HOSPITALITY
DAY ONE THEME: BIBLICAL HOSPITALITY
SCRIPTURE: MATTHEW 25:31-46 (CEB)
“Now when the Human One comes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne. All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you or naked and give you clothes to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of mine, you have done it for me.’
Then the king will say to those on his left. ‘Get away from me you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stanger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ Then he will answer, I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’
And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous one will go into eternal life.”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: The only time for judgement is when the Human One comes. It is a time ‘out there’ when the sheep and the goats – all of one flock – will then be separated from one another. At that point all that will matter is whether or not the life in question has grasped the value and importance of being God’s chosen first – ahead of anything else in life.
Kingdom living shows up as we see a need and do the deed to meet the need. God’s call upon our life is to recognize all kinds of needs and oppression and be liberators for the Kingdom’s sake – bringing more and more sibling sheep into the flock of God. Our job is to go through our every day life with eyes wide open to what need may be staring us right in the face and not pass it by. We never know when we might need to make that phone call because someone is really on our heart and they just need to hear from us. It may be that moment at the red light where the only dollar in our wallet needs to go to the one holding the sign. Having our eyes open and making sure that we are sharing and not hoarding things – food, clothing, blankets, coats, furniture, anything, everything – that we are helping to meet the need of others in mysterious and wonderful ways.
It is interesting in this parable that the ones who receive ‘good things’ are not sure what they have done to deserve these good things. They ask the Human One – when did we do any of these things you mention? The response given by the Human One is the most convicting of all… “when you do it to any of the least of my brothers and sisters, you have done it for me.” It is a concern for me that often in our world – the least of these are the very people that often receive looks of disgust and judgment rather than empathy and a helping hand. Jesus never met a stranger or someone disgusting – everyone he met or encountered he loved and accepted and blessed – even those who disagreed with him. It is a challenging life for sure!
Our lives are not to be filled with doing things that may or may not satisfy God – much like the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. It is when, because of our identity with God, our lives reach out in empathy to any other human in need – no matter why or what — and extend that helping hand, doing all in our power to meet the need of the moment. Is it hunger, is it acceptance, is it clothing, is it a smile…. In any given moment we will encounter folks who are in need of something that is in our power to meet.
It is a good thing that our churches have great ministries beyond their boundaries to make provisions in our communities and even the world to feed the hungry and clothe the poor and care for the sick. We can become involved in any of these and find great joy in such service. We give from our resources through our ongoing tithes and offerings that help with such ministries and missions. But additionally, our tithing of ourselves is where the true Disciple finds Kingdom living such a joy…it comes naturally as God’s love courses through us and is used by God’s Spirit to bring wholeness and healing to this world. It is when we are at the grocery store or on our way to visit family and we see a need and are able – in the moment – as it crosses our path – to be the one to do the deed! In those actions, we are the hands and feet of Christ in our daily living and respond to such opportunity with His love and empathy.
Those going into eternal punishment are equally surprised that they had never experienced the Human One in need of anything or else, of course they would have responded. It is when we do not recognize the whole world as God’s people too, that we will miss the mark. It is a matter of our heart and the things we hold on to and the things we are willing to let go of in order to be God’s precious children…those with their Father’s eyes unconditionally loving their brothers and sisters.
Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts to our Father and opens our hearts for the good of the world around us, bringing Heaven on Earth!