Today, I started reading Christians Against Christianity: How Right-Wing Evangelicals Are Destroying Our Nation & Our Faith by Obery M. Hendricks. I’m going to share a passage from the introduction, which begins with a quote from Matthew 22:36-39, before moving on to Matthew 25, the Parable of the Sheep and Goats:
Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 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.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “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.”
The subtext of both these seminal Gospel pronouncements is that believers have responsibility for the health and well-being not only of our personal circles of friends and loved ones but also for the good of all, particularly those in need. The martyred Salvadoran priest Oscar Romero insisted, “We cannot segregate God’s word from the historical reality in which it is proclaimed. It would not then be God’s word. . . . It would be a pious book, a Bible that is just a book in our library. It becomes God’s word because it vivifies, enlightens, contrasts, repudiates, praises what is going on today in this society.”
Those words hit me hard. Without us actually living out our faith, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Bible would just become a plain old book on a shelf. Pious, yes, but a book, that let’s face it, would go widely unread. I like that St. Francis quote:
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today.”
- Read the whole Parable of the Sheep and Goats here.
- Examine your heart, mind and actions. Do you believe some “neighbors” are worthy of love while others aren’t? Who do you consider to be neighbors?