Sunday, January 10, 2010


It's one of the most terrifying things I've ever read in my life before. What makes it so frightening is the idea that it's talking about me.

If you're someone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus, then the truth is you should feel the same way I do because it's also talking about your future too.

I'm talking about Matthew chapter 25 where Jesus gives us a snapshot into the future. He explains that, in the end, all those who call themselves followers of Jesus will be gathered into the same place together.

You will be standing there. I will be there too.

If there was a DVD edition of Matthew 25 you and I could freeze the wide shot and begin looking for our faces in the crowd.

There! You're just behind the guy with the black ponytail. Oh, there I am, next to the skinny guy with the beard. That's me.

When we really consider that our presence in this passage is an actual point in time, it makes the passage all the more difficult to read.

Maybe you've already read this passage before? Maybe not. Maybe you understand the sobering reality of the words spoken by Jesus here, and maybe you have already considered the consequences.

I wish there was a way for me to adaquately communicate the seriousness of Matthew 25 to everyone, but perhaps it's more powerful if each person simply reads it for themselves?

At any rate, Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that there will come a day when you will be standing in a large place with everyone else who has ever called themselves a follower of Jesus. Or more specifically, with everyone who has ever called Jesus "Lord".

You'll be there one day, in that great assembly. You'll cheer when Jesus makes His entrance. You'll feel the goosebumps. You'll bend your knees and weep. You will want to pinch yourself because you'll hardly believe that you're the presence of Jesus, here at the end of time.

Then Jesus will stand up in front of everyone and he will ask some of the assembly to move to the right side of the room, and others he will ask to move to the left side. We'll all shuffle around wherever he asks us to move, of course, perhaps so taken in the moment that we'll not realize what exactly is taking place.

Then Jesus will ask those on the left side why they never gave him anything to drink when he was thirsty. He will ask them, with tears in his eyes, why they didn't feed him when he was hungry. The room will grow quiet. Finally someone will respond by asking him what he's referring to exactly.

That's when Jesus will explain to them that whatever they did for the least of those in the life they had on Earth, they were doing it to him also.

It makes me wonder, what will my response be?

We can ask ourselves this same question right now. We don't have to wait for Jesus to ask us at the Great Judgement, thankfully. I think that's the whole point of Jesus giving us a sneak preview of this moment. So that we can be prepared to give an answer that will please Him when the time comes.

If you're not in the habit of caring for people who walk into your path on a regular basis, then you already know what your answer will be to Jesus on that day. "I'm so busy, Lord" or "Those people should have gotten a job", or "If only I had known it was you, Jesus".

But of course, we already DO know that don't we? That is the whole point of Matthew 25. We get to have a window on the future so that we can begin to live now in a way that will reflect the Truth on that final Day.

You will be standing there one day. You really will. I will too.

What will your response to Jesus be when He asks you that question?

Honestly, I don't want to motivate anyone to start caring for the poor out of a sense of guilt or coercion. If nothing else, sit down and read Matthew 25 all by yourself. See what you think it is saying to you. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you on this subject.

What I find fascinating about Matthew 25 is the fact that those who do care for the poor are just as unaware of the significance of their actions as those who failed to care for the poor. They answer, "When did we see you naked and clothe you? When did we see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?"

Those who sincerely loved Jesus and who cared for the poor in their life on Earth did so because they were incapable of walking past someone who was hungry without doing something about it. It was almost a natural reaction for them, it wasn't a task to be completed or a ticket out of condemnation. Their acts of compassion were almost unconsciously done out of a heart of love for others.

"Swimming won't make you a fish, but if you are a fish you will swim"

Because of the fact that Jesus had really changed their hearts and made them a new creation, they found it impossible to walk past a fellow human being in need and turn the other way.

If anything, what's most necessary is to become transformed from within. You and I need Jesus to change us into the sort of people who love others more than we love ourselves. We need to become people who have a heart like His heart.

Only Jesus can change us into people like this. It takes a miracle, and lucky for us, Jesus is in the Miracle Business.


*Originally posted on the [Subversive Underground], November, 2006.

1 comment:

Lori Stilger said...

Keith, I posted a link on my blog to this post.
Time has definitely polished your skills, my friend - that was a fine point on your Sword, there.... :)
Thank you. I'd forgotten a little of what it's like being around you! :D