Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fresh Look at Matthew: Matthew 25:31-45



While this portion is about judgment, I find it comforting.
1.     Jesus in judgment cares about the plight, the lives of the poor, imprisoned (for debt and unjustly; in that time serious criminals were usually executed), those in real need.  Our treatment of them comes into judgment as one of the standards.  We see this in Daniel 4; Nebuchadnezzar is judged with insanity because of his treatment of the poor. 
2.     Jesus identifies with his brethren.  How wonderful. 
3.     Jesus identifies with his brethren who are the least of these.
4.     We don’t have an option to ignore these people. 
So, with the certainty of that foundation, the first of two remaining issues is this point is the how.  How can we best use our resources to free these folks from the chains of poverty, honor God in it, and avoid enslaving them in dependence on us?  I am a firm believer in stewardship with the biggest bang for the buck in terms of those three things.  I do advocate for child sponsorship, and am thinking about taking on a second child.  The money is less a problem than devoting the time to writing them and keeping up with them, but that is a small thing. 
The other issue is our inner heart attitude. I don’t fear judgment but I do fear box checking and legalism and self-righteous action.  While I advocate for this, I do not want to talk about my own giving. 
Which brings us to the soteriological and eschatological problem here. I have heard it taught that this judgment is of the nations and how they treat God’s people, not of individuals.  Perhaps.  I think we want to cling to grace so much that we overlook that grace makes us different people, or it’s not grace.  If accepting the grace of God in salvation through Jesus Christ does not make us more compassionate, what good was it?  This foolish 20th century evangelical idea of “once saved, always saved, make a profession and walk an aisle and click a few boxes and you’ll be ok” is so unbiblical that I can’t deal with it.  The problem is that legalists want to add to the foundation of Christ and traditions build up over time that confuse believers with works.  As our pastor says, each generation has to fight for the purity of the gospel.

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