One of the most vivid and simple stories that Jesus told is recorded in the gospel of Matthew chapter 25, verses 31 – 46 which we sometimes refer to as the story of “The Sheep and the Goats.” Bible teachers don’t agree on whether this story is a parable or a prophecy about an actual future judgment. But one thing is clear. In this story, Jesus said that His true followers would be the one who are feeding and clothing the destitute and visiting and comforting the sick and afflicted.
There are many reasons why people are abandoning churches and denying Christianity. But one of the major reasons is a senses that Christians churches have given up trying to be real disciples of Jesus. Many Christians seem to think that the only purpose of Christian faith is to make sure that they get into heaven. Often people say a prayer to be saved and never truly experience the conversion of a life surrendered to Jesus.
Now, we aren’t supposed to judge, and I know that I could never pretend to know another person’s heart.
But Jesus seems pretty convinced that His people will be the ones who show love and compassion to those who are hurting and in need. He even says that those who don’t do that will be cast out with the devil and his angels.
Could it be that the faith that really saves also produces a change in a person’s heart that makes them want to help those who are hungry and naked and strangers? Could it be that we need to examine if our faith is really in Jesus, or just in ourselves?
The New Testament is clear that no amount of righteous works will bring salvation. But the New Testament is just as clear that real followers of Jesus will do good works. As G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting, it’s been found difficult; and left untried.”
In Romans, Paul says that the creation is groaning, waiting for the revealing of the children of God. I think the human race is also groaning, waiting and watching to see if we really believe in Jesus and if we will act accordingly.
Love in Christ,
Pastor, Rocky River Baptist Church