Jesus wants to shock us into caring with compassion. Many Christians simply will not show compassion and mercy and forgiveness, even though Jesus strongly and repeatedly commanded us to love as He loved us.
As I mentioned on Wednesday night in the Believe class, it has been hard to write anything on Compassion. Yes I have had a busier than normal week. But I believe it’s more than that. I am truly pondering the lavishness of God’s love and compassion on me and us as sinners, both redeemed and unredeemed.
I also ponder that many of those whom we show compassion on do not always respond with faith, repentance, change, or with a more godly lifestyle.
I also know that often times, my heart becomes jaded against being compassionate on those who are only wanting a hand out and not wanting to really allow God to change them.
“So, if you need food, go to a grocery store,” I could and have said. “If you need money, go to the bank. Need gas? Go to the gas station. Why come to the church for things beyond spiritual help?”
One simple reason they come to the church: Jesus commanded us to help those in need. There are too many passages to overlook this. In fact, one of the most theologically disturbing passages is found in our reading in BELIEVE this week (page 139, Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus almost puts what we do as the reason why He separates the sheep and the goats. He describes the sheep as those who fed, satisfied, invited, clothed, cared for the sick and visited in prison. And the goats did none of those things.
I say it is theologically disturbing for two reasons:
1)He implies that doing something is the cause for their good and bad judgment and
2) He implies those who are sheep will do those things and those who are goats will not do those things.
So why does Jesus make such a blurring of lines on whether salvation is based on faith or is it based on works, as implied in Matthew 25?
I believe it is because Jesus wants to impress and shock us into caring with compassion. So many Christians will not show compassion and mercy and forgiveness, even with these strong and often repeated commands.
Now in Matthew 25, Jesus never says that sheep are sheep because they do those things He describes. He divides the sheep and goats because quite frankly they are sheep and goats. And those whom He divides are “all the nations” and could be a sign that Jesus will judge nations based on how the nations of the world treated “the least of Jesus’ brothers and sisters,” either Christians or Jews or both.
But the ultimate and most recurring command of Christ cannot be overlooked or explained away: we as Christians and the church are commanded to love others, especially those who are in the greatest of need.