There are two passages of scripture that have scared the crap out of me the last two months. Both being found in Mathew and both being the words of Jesus. The first is that of the sheep and the goats found in chapter 25. This being where Jesus seperates the people into sheep and goats. The sheep being heavenly creatures and the goats the hellish creatures subjected to the eternal punishment prepared for Satan and his angels. The scary part is that both the sheep and the goats seem suprised to be seperated into their chosen catagories. Jesus states that he was fed when hungry, was given a drink when thirsty, was provided clothes and shelter as a stranger, and was visited when sick or in prison by the sheep and was ignored by the goats. They both reply by asking when they did this. Jesus' answer, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Everytime I come across this passage I am left pondering my place among the sheep and goats. Am I a sheep because I happily empty my pocket or hand away my to go box to each reaching hand in the street? Or am I a goat because I never actually feed those who are hungry? I walk away as soon as the hand off is made. I assume that my buck thirty eight will enter a cup that will accumulate enough change for a Big Mac. I assume that my smile and eye contact is pleasing enough. I assume I have done my job. Is this enough to please Jesus? And of course, I can't invite strangers into my suburban home because it isn't exactly mine and they never enter my suburban land. I donate my clothes to salvation army. Is that enough to please Jesus? Or does it even matter considering that I shop at Goodwill myself?
I also have to ask, who is Jesus refering to when he says, "these brothers of mine?" Does he limit charity to only Christians, or is 'a brother of mine' simply a human? Are the goats suprised because their charity doesn't count or because they never came across a hungry Jesus?
The next passage that haunts my sleepless nights is Mathew 26:24-25. It reads, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it...' " I try to lose my life, but I often find myself trying to save it like the drowning child who grasps desperately at thin air looking for an arm to pull him up. Is this really losing my life or is it searching for a comprimise as if to say, "Here you go God, I'll give you my life, but these are my terms."
Jesus died on His cross. How can I die on mine? I often wonder, how big is the cross? How much must I endure in order to consider my life lost. Jesus defeated death with his resurection. No task I can accomplish. It is Him who lifts me up as I try to subject myself to His will.
"But who ever loses his life for me will find it."
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6 months ago