Sometimes I wonder if we are listening?
Have you noticed that the world is a stressful place to live? It’s getting worse too. Islamic militants have captured our attention and are sowing fear, dread, and discord in the West. We are growing more restless every day. This rise in our awareness of the terrorism that surrounds us (which threatens our way of life) will likely result in some kind of national action.
So how should a Christian respond to the times we are in? Should we just put our hands over our ears and, “Trust in Jesus?” Maybe it will all just go away. Let’s just leave it to the government to solve.
This has never been the prescription for God’s people.
I’m mindful of the words of our Lord, when He spoke to His disciples about His inevitable return. You can read the account I’m talking about for yourself in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 25, verses 31-46. It’s a gripping passage with severe implications.
Consider that the Lord said, “Before him [Jesus the King] will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.”
There is coming a great bifurcation of humanity. Before the King, people will be separated into two sides. It seems right to ponder just which side one will find himself or herself on.
Consider what the Lord says after this separation. He said, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 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, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”
It is inescapable that the reward was tied to the behavior of the blessed ones.
Conversely, the Lord had some things to say to those who were separated from the “blessed.” He said, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.”
It is noteworthy that both groups of people answered the Lord in the same way. When did we [not] do this to you? His response was the same to each side. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it [not] to one of the least of these [my brothers], you did it [not] to me.”
Basic theological disputes aside, it is clear, from the Lord’s own mouth, that the distinction in the two groups was manifested by how the people responded to the Lord Himself, through His Church — the ones referred to as the least of these my brethren.
I am sure the Church is alive in the West. But I wonder if she is listening very well. It is far past the time to hear the cry of our brethren and rise to answer the Lord’s call to us through them.
I know of an increasing number of believers who want to “take action” against the evil in the world. I’m one of them. More and more want to exterminate the offenders with extreme prejudice. That may be necessary, but it should not be our first action. Let’s join our efforts together to plead the cause of our afflicted brethren, particularly in the 10-40 window, and seek to relieve their pains and encourage them to stand fast. This is our calling. It is who we are, who consider ourselves to be the “blessed” in the Lord’s parable.
Do you hear them? Can you hear our Lord calling you through their cries? Will you answer Him? Someday is upon us. How will you respond today?