Monday, March 01, 2021

Moderator’s Musings

by Blaine Miner

One of the lessons I learned in seminary about reading scripture was to pay attention to thoughts which are repeated. One such thought focuses on the care towards the foreigner, the widow, and the fatherless. In the Old testament there are stern admonishments to care for these folks and to not take advantage of those who might be considered helpless.

In Matthew 25, the gospel scripture that is the focus of this year’s District Conference theme, Jesus makes his point twice. In the passage subtitled “the judgment of the nations,” the Son of Man is sitting on the throne of glory with the angels. As the people and nations come before him, they are separated as sheep and goats. Jesus tells those in each group why they are in the group that they have been assigned.

“When I was hungry, 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” (Matthew 25:35-36). Then Jesus states it again in verses 42-43, this time with a negative twist.

The sheep and the goats are surprised by the selection process. As they stand before the Son of Man, they both say, “when did we do (or not do) what you say?” It is implied that had they recognized the opportunity to feed, provide drink, clothing, care, and visitation, they would have done so. I find it interesting how Jesus re-states here the admonishments found in the Old Testament regarding the foreigner, the widow, and the fatherless. The challenge to extend charity as a matter of practice is encouraged. As a matter of their daily activity, when presented with the opportunity the sheep gave, and the goats did not.

In the book of James, the writer encourages his readers to be active participants. When you hear of a need or see a need, you should respond. The expectation is action – there will be consequences for inaction. In this passage there were no excuses accepted. Not recognizing those in need as worthy of assistance because they did not look like the Son of Man was not a reason to withhold help.

We do get to make choices. Most of the time our choices are made depending on how comfortable we are interacting with the unknown. Jesus encourages us to act in a compassionate manner. Trusting in doing the righteous is never a bad thing. When we come to the throne, will we be surprised by which group we will be sorted into?