How to serve Jesus – Matthew 25:34-40

34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

I believe this passage has a special application pertaining to the nations’ treatment of the Jews in the days leading up to Christ’s return.  Still, pretty much all passages of Scripture have some sort of application for us today.  This one may be applicable in all places and at all times, except for some hypothetical place where no one is poor, needy, sick, etc.  I’m not sure where that might be.  

The other day, I was reading in Rodney Stark’s The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries.  Though a professed agnostic, this sociologist of religion quoted the passage above and went on to explain how the early church put it into practice.

[Ancient] Pagan and Christian writers are unanimous not only that Christian Scripture stressed love and charity as the central duties of faith, but that these were sustained in everyday behavior … When the New Testament was new, these were the norms of Christian communities. (Stark, The Rise of Christianity, 86-87)

They should still be the norms today – helping the poor, the needy, the sick and those in prison  They probably are, for the most part, at least among Christians that I know,.  I’m happy to be pastor of a church where all of these behaviors are normal.  But still, let’s keep doing these things until Jesus comes.  When we serve those in need he says we are serving him.

A Prayer Prompted by Matthew 9:36-38

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Heavenly Father,

Christ had compassion on the shepherdless crowds who were harassed and helpless.  In response he asked us to pray, and so this is what we are doing.  He alone is their true Shepherd, their Good Shepherd and Chief Shepherd.

There are multitudes who need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of who he is and what he has done.  There are multitudes more who need to hear it again, who need to be reminded or given one more opportunity to respond.

None of us can accomplish this task alone.  Please, heavenly Father, send out laborers.  As Jesus pointed out, the harvest is truly plentiful and the laborers few.  Send out laborers into this great harvest field.  Let their labors lead to the increase of your church.  Let their labors be used to build your church.  Let eternity be filled with more people brought into your family as a result of the laborers that you send out in response to our prayers.  Let disciples be multiplied and the knowledge of your word be increased.  And let your name be glorified throughout all ages as a result.

Amen.

Hearing His Voice

Have you noticed the disconnect between believers and unbelievers when it comes to hearing the voice of Jesus?  Some of us take in Christ’s message and it immediately cuts to the heart.  We are certain it has made an incredible impact before we even know exactly how.  Others hear it and immediately question, doubt or argue. 

As difficult as this difference in receptivity is to understand, we should not let it discourage us – or even surprise us.  It’s a normal part of the difference between those who are the sheep of the Good Shepherd and those who are not.

Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” – John 10:24-28 (NKJV)

Don’t be shocked by hearing the voice of Jesus.  Don’t ignore it.  Don’t aplogize for it.  Simply follow Him when you hear Him call.