“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. 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.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
I’m writing this column in the car while my wife is driving. We’re on our way to South Carolina to see an old, dear friend of ours who is currently in ICU in the hospital. As far as I know, he is still alive and the doctors are still working to save him…but they did call the family in yesterday morning. Things are very dire. Any prayers lifted up to the ears of our Heavenly Father on his behalf are greatly appreciated.
What makes this man and his family so close to my heart? I could list several things. He is a fellow Christian. He was a deacon in the church where I used to preach before I moved to Calhoun. For a decade we shared many a meal and much laughter. He and his wife babysat our daughters quite often, so that our little girls look to them as surrogate parents. Yet if there is anything above all these other reasons that is behind how the news of his very possible upcoming departure from this earth caused me to burst into tears, it is the memory of how this man and his family were always there for me in my own dark hours of need. Theirs was the comforting hand on my shoulder, the quiet word of prayer and encouragement, the still embrace that lifted my family and me up when I needed it the most. That is why we are on our way to see them now. They were there for us in our hour of need. We will be there for them now.
This is what Jesus intended the church to be for Christians and for all those who are lost in the darkness and struggling to stay afloat in this discouraging, evil world: a place where one can find comfort and kindness, sympathy and love. Yes, the church is to take a firm stand for truth and fight against sin. The church must be bold enough to call good what God’s Word says is good and evil what God’s Word says is evil. Our world needs that. Yet, our Lord also wants His followers to show this world that His way truly is the better way by giving them the same compassion, empathy, kindheartedness and charity which God gives to us every single day. Our world needs that too.
On the day of Judgment, we will be judged by what is written in God’s Word, according to what we have done (John 12:48; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12). Salvation will be given by the grace of God to all who obey Jesus (Titus 2:11-12; Matthew 7:21-27; Hebrews 5:8-9). As the above passage out of Matthew 25 shows, one of the commands Jesus has given us is to basically show His love to others by helping them in their time of need. By doing so, we show that we love Him too.