Believe and Obey

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Final Exam

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The Gathering

This week’s text is Matthew 25: 31-46.  This is the tale of the end of it all.  The final sorting.  All the talk about wheat and chaff, tossing out some into the outer darkness, etc… is coming to fruition in this text.  This is the proverbial sheep and goats time.  The sheep get in the goats do not.  God is sorting and offering the kingdom that was prepared from the beginning of creation for those who are blessed.

To those on the right, The King is saying you gave me food when I was hungry, and sheltered and cared for me.  When asked when he was seen like this the king answered, when you saw the least of these among you, you saw the king.  Conversely the king tells those that failed to help the least of these that they will be cast out.  This is an invitation to a gathering we cannot get out of.  The passage makes clear, as do many others in Scripture, that this gathering will occur.

Is It About What We Do After All?

This “final exam” seems to be about adding up what we did and subtracting what we did not do.  This would seem at first glance to give some credence to the idea that we must perform works to get into heaven.  This would be an incorrect conclusion, however.  Time and again we have seen that it is our faith in God that puts us right with Him.  We trust that His word is true, that the resurrection is real, and that Jesus Christ is Lord.  This is what has obliterated all that stands between us and an eternal place in the presence of God.

Also, time and again, we have seen that the gifts that God has showered us with should elicit a response.  We have repeatedly decried the concept of “cheap grace” whereby we claim belief, but it does nothing to change us.  The whole name of this effort is Believe and Obey.  The obedience is not to manipulate God but to respond as best we can.  In the end only God will know if we truly believe.  Whatever we may think of someone else’s response only God will know if that response was driven by true belief.  Nothing in this passage alters this.

Then What About the To Do List?

The list of things that is included during this final gathering is simply an indication of the way we should orient ourselves now that we believe.  Of utmost care and concern to God is the plight of the “least of these” in our community.  Here is where we both find God and find opportunities to do God’s work.  Here is where we find the chance to witness to God’s boundless love for His children.  This “list” simply points us in the direction of where God wants us to devote our energies in response to the gift of our faith.  Our God is a God that knows His children intimately through the earthly experience of His Son Jesus the Christ.  Yes, God loves all His children but, in His humanity, God knows who needs the most help, which is where He directs our attention.  This is much less a to do list than it is an attitude adjuster.

So before the final gathering, acknowledge the stunning, eternal nature of the gifts God has bestowed upon you by taking all the faith God has granted unto you and putting it in action on behalf of those God (and us as well) knows who need the most help.  God will know the truth of your heart regardless of what it is that you do, but before that final gathering let your belief drive your obedience.

Praise Be to God

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