Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that 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 something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.” Matthew 25:34-36, 40
I’ve seen those “How To” books before. They tend to be very tedious in their very particular directions. I don’t normally use these books because, just like some other men, I don’t usually read the directions when I put something together. I might if I have no clue, but I’d much rather just throw it together. Needless to say, not much about a “how to” manual really helps me if I never follow the directions.
Jesus doesn’t often give us that same “how to” directions. He often teaches in parables and was confusing enough that his disciples really didn’t get the point until after he died on the cross and rose again. Here, in Matthew 25, Jesus does share with us a bit of what can be easily taken as a “how to” manual for inheriting the Kingdom. In sharing about judgment of the world, Jesus shows us two groups. One group inherits the kingdom. The other gets “eternal fire” (Jesus’ words, not mine). I’m fairly certain I know which group I’d like to join.
Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t have any trouble getting right to the heart of his listeners. How we treat those who are the least among us is how Christ will treat us. The very fabric of our character is the test that he shares. He wants to know how we are deep inside. He knew the value of that character. While it may seem glamorous to be Jesus (constantly being followed by crowds of people, well known, performing miracles, riding on donkeys, etc.) in reality Jesus was among the very least in his culture. He grew up in Nazareth, a town that was known for creating nothing good. He was a humble carpenter. He had a great lineage, but so did many other Jews. In reality, Jesus was hated, taunted, and persecuted throughout his whole ministry. The God of this universe has been at the bottom, by choice and love, and through that has the perspective to ask us to treat those who are at the bottom with love as well. He’s been there and knows the feeling.
So Jesus has a plan. Feed them. Share a drink. Welcome them. Clothe them. Care for them. Visit them. This is the how to manual for inheriting the kingdom. If we are to truly live a life practicing what we believe, this is the moment. This is the time. Here and now in this community is the answer.
One of the most rewarding parts of my time here in Garden City so far has been visiting those who are in the hospital, rest homes, and shut in their homes. It may not be apparent in the weekly services or activities, but there are many in the fellowship of the church that aren’t able to make it on Sunday mornings, but they are just as much a part of our body as everyone else. They listen on the radio and pray right alongside us. The church is about relationships and here in visitation is where I have developed some great friendships. These people are genuinely happy to have someone visit them. It is the church being the church at its finest hour when we take care of the body. We already have a great team of people visiting these individuals on a monthly basis and just ask that every volunteer visit one shut-in a month. It is a simple and easy way to do something very important. If you are interesting in joining this visitation team, we can sure use some more visitors. Please let me know!
Another ministry that is vital to our church is the card ministry. Many of you have received a card (or 10) when you were ill or needed encouragement. This is a simple and profound way to reach across the congregation and care for others. A note of encouragement can go a long way. We are weekly adding and revising the list of people. We provide the cards and the names and ask for two short cards to be sent a week. I’d like to ask if there is anyone who is interested in this ministry to ask me about it. I’d love to share how this ministry can be impactful! We can even email the list to you!
God’s Kingdom grows a little bit every time we share His love with someone. Let’s grow this Kingdom so when we inherit it someday that we will find the investment of our time really has paid off!