Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Lent day 21 - sheep care and goats beware

No one likes the idea that some people will miss out; surely God is love? Continuing from the last post, we follow Matthew's gospel from verses 31-46 and the parable of sheep and goats. The sheep are those who cared for Jesus when he was in need by caring for 'the least of these'. They receive eternal life. Those who didn't care for the least of these didn't care for the least of these didn't care for Jesus, and face punishment.

If, as I am in correct on following Tom Wright and others, the phrase "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory." refers to Daniel 7 and Jesus' resurrection and ascension to heaven (and not his return), what sense do we make of this? Again, the 'least of these' would either be the first followers of Jesus or the people of Israel in general (probably the former who were part of the later) and hence the sheep are those who cared for them (the earliest followers) and the goats the religious hierarchy. I think it is historically consistent again to see what was happening in the first place - a judgement on Israel by one of her prophets, her king and her God

Of course one could say, and I suspect this is correct too, that there is a degree of telescoping into the end times judgement. But given this, I can't help but think this is still an internal critique. In other words, hell is more often a warning to those inside the church than those outside. Just as sitting in a garage doesn't make you a car, going to church doesn't make you a Christian. If you don't exhibit real and practical love for those in the body of Christ, are you really 'saved', a 'Christian', following Jesus?

This isn't a call to fear or doubt, but a call to action. Get real on love inside the church (and outside too). Be a sheep who cares and not a goat who needs to beware. Get your heart right, which will mean repenting, maybe even for the first time.

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