“35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:31-46
When I’m at my best (by which I don’t mean my performance but rather the way of life that brings the wholeness of shalom – like eating Greek yogurt and peaches for breakfast but better- I enter the day by reading Scripture. Before checking news, email, Facebook, or Twitter (I cringe to write that it seems so ridiculous onscreen), I open the Bible to a book and soak in a passage. When I am at my super-best, I record at least one observation about the words read.
Today I came to a passage likely familiar to Scripture and non-Scripture readers alike – Matthew 26:31-46It’s not really surprising that the next chapter tells us that the chief priests definitively decided to kill Jesus, because his words are downright offensive to those who believe themselves to be righteous on the basis of keeping the law and intimidating for those who think they might be true followers of Christ.
It is here that Jesus raises the standard of the law to the high tight rope of love, where the truly jaw-dropping wonders take place. As he did with the inquisitive rich man in…., he narrows down the way to enter eternal clothes a few basics: clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, filling the thirsty, visiting the sick and imprisoned. And he declares that doing these things is equal to clothing, feeding, filling, and visiting HIM, the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.
Reading this list always intimidates me as well it should. I’d be shirking the Spirit if I didn’t read these words and ask myself, “How well have I loved Jesus then?” Well, we’ve engaged with the homeless, given lots of clothes to Waterfront Mission, bought Angel Tree gifts most years…but really? From this description, I’m not sure I’m much of a lover. I’m decent, but far from truly self-sacrificial.
Caveat to self as I write the next sentence-
Don’t use this as an excuse not to focus on caring for the broken!!
And yet, because of the One who calls me to love him, I do have hope to love him. I too can be separated as a sheep! One, because I’m stubborn and wayward. And two, because I am clothed in the righteousness of the only One who has perfectly fulfilled the law of love! And in that righteousness, I relax, confess my love-failure, and move again in faith, hope, and love to live the call of the gospel.
May our lives truly reflect the caring, broken heart of our restoring and redeeming God.