November 21

Matthew 25:31-36

“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for 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…” vss. 35b-36

The will of Jesus for those who follow him and walk according to his teachings could not be more clearly stated than here in Matthew’s gospel. It’s his last parable, an image of the last judgment with a central point that cannot be misunderstood. According to Jesus, those who inherit the kingdom are the people who care for the hungry and thirsty, welcome strangers, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit those in prison. He says not a word about accepting him as a personal savior, giving your heart to him, believing in the Trinity, going to church, or even being baptized. All those things, while good in themselves, are “church” stuff and are linked to insider language. Yet these are the things which too many believers have made the center of their life together! What really counts with Jesus are those deeds and actions which too many theologians have dismissively called “the social gospel.” Of course we’ll organize ourselves into congregations, develop rituals, and form denominations. That’s what we do–it’s a way of ordering our lives. But what we do has value only if it assists us in caring for the least, the lost, and the lonely. It’s the Jesus bottom line!

Thought for the Day: What would the king say to my congregation?

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