What are we known for? More specifically, what am I known for? What is my life characterized by? What do I want it to be characterized by? What does God want me to be known for? As a Christ follower, what should characterize my life?
As of late, these are the questions that I have been asking myself. At times in my life, I thought that I had a handle on how I should live as a Christ follower; but with each new day, God blows me away and leads me to my knees, only to repent from my distorted self-absorbed Gospel and lack of love.
Just recently, I had a dear friend share a passage from the Gospel of Matthew with me. At first, it was just another passage I had read a 100 times before; but for some reason or another, I had this desire to re-read it over and over again. In doing so, I began to see something that I had never seen before. This passage is found in Chapter 25, verses 31-46. This passage says,
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Jesus is teaching and describing what will take place when He returns. He says that He, the Son of Man, will come in all His glory and will begin to separate the sheep (the Christ follower) from the goats (the one who was not a Christ follower). He then calls those who followed Him, the righteous, to take in their inheritance and enter into the kingdom (verse 34).
The next portion, verses 35-40, is what blew me away. Like I said, I have read this before; but, I have never made the connection that at the “grand finale” Jesus Christ describes His followers in this way:
They fed the hungry…
They gave water to the thirsty…
They were hospitable and inclusive…
They clothed the naked…
They looked after the sick…
They visited those who were in prison…
WOW! Out of everything that Jesus could have said, He said this about those who followed Him. This is what His followers were known for.
I love what Jesus went on to say. The Message Version paraphrases verse 40 in this way:
“Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.”
The remaining portion of this passage is in regards to those who did not acknowledge and help the least of these; they were guilty for their sins of omission (see James 4:17).
Oh how I pray that my life would be known for the former and not the latter. I pray that my life would display the character of Christ - His love, justice, and mercy-through my words, actions, and behaviors.
I pray that Christ would continue to shine His light over me and help me to see the overlooked, ignored, and needy. I pray for the faith to obey, take risk, and demonstrate the Gospel (God’s good news) to these people.
May that begin to happen in all of our lives and may we begin to be known for our love and care for all people, especially, the overlooked and ignored.