But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. —Matthew 25:31-32
For those who do not or cannot worship with us, our congregation used the New Living Translation (the NLT) version of the Bible for reasons I can share another time. The NLT footnote to these verses says, “God will separate his obedient followers from pretenders and unbelievers. The real evidence of our belief is the way we act.”
In yesterday’s Stillspeaking Daily Devotional, UCC pastor and regular contributor Lillian Daniels wrote on a necessary, timely, and painful subject—suicide.
I totally admire Lillian. In fact, through the Stillspeaking Devotional, I have written her a couple of times with sincere gratitude for what she has contributed as a present-day mouthpiece of God. She is precise, poignant and empowering. She is thoughtful. She is gentle.
Yesterday, she said we all get to heaven. Each of us. She inferred that there are no sheep and goats, that our beliefs and subsequent actions on those beliefs have little matter to God. We all get in.
In well-known scripture that follows the verses above, Jesus says, “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”
With age comes wisdom. Maybe my years bring to me questions. I am uncertain. I’m not set on who are the sheep and who are the goats, on those who get to heaven and those who do not.
Rather than thinking and thinking on this, Jesus offers us something so much better to do. Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Love the lost, the one who smells, the one with a drinking problem, and the one who cheats on her taxes. Oh, and love the hypocrite, which, in honesty, can be most (or nearly all) of us who profess to Christianity. Jesus is saying don’t think. Do.
So, do. Go and do. Love out loud. Love the family today who grieves a friend or family member who has lost their life to suicide. Love the unlovable, the mean guy, and the one who does not love you.
And love sheep. And love goats.
Who does and doesn’t get to heaven is not on our plate. Instead, and I’m sure Lillian agrees with me here, just love. Do this love not through words alone. Get your actions in there.
PRAYER: Lord, help us be like You, which means we love without borders or boundaries. And remind us—maybe even nudge us A LOT—to see that love isn’t just a spoken sentiment, it’s an action. Amen.