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We had a great time last week with [retracted] talking about “Your Kingdom Come.” Mind stretching to see how he and his wife, are living out the Kingdom by creating a Matt. 25 home (see verses 31-46), with Matt 5-7 as their Constitution. They are living out the Gospel among [retracted] Muslims, and seeing God interacting in lives! A challenge, with much food for thought.
This week, we will enjoy the return of Dr. Jim Lo, from Indiana Wesleyan University, to share on “Mandate for the Nations.” Dr. Lo has had personal experience in ministry in Southern Africa and Cambodia, written several books, and has taught wherever he has gone! You will enjoy his energy, humor and practical application of the material into our lives.
Matthew 25:31-46 (from The Message Translation)
When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ 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.’
“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’
“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’
“Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”
A friend sent me a devotional today on the woman at the well. It got me thinking.
Last night I was listening to Chuck Swindoll on the radio. He was talking about Nazareth, and Nathanael’s comment, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Swindoll went on to explain that Nazareth was the location of a Roman army barracks, and a center for prostitution, gambling, corruption. Jesus had “seen it all” growing up. Makes you wonder how many people suspected Mary was really pregnant by a Roman soldier, especially when Jesus bore no physical resemblance to his “dad”, Joseph. And it gives more meaning to Jesus being tempted in ALL ways like we are, yet without sin.
But that’s not all! Look at Jesus’ geneaology in Matthew 1 sometime. Do a little study on the four women mentioned there. (That’s amazing in itself! Rarely were women allowed in such a listing – even though they were the ones who did the literal labor!) They are all somehow outside the accepted “Who’s Who” of Israel. Let’s see, one woman (a Canaanite) has a child through incest, another (an Amorite) was once a prostitute, the third (a Moabite) is an immigrant, and the last an adulteress, (who was married to a Hittite)! Is that “messy” enough for you??? Sounds pretty contemporary to me!
It’s in that light that we can see Jesus talking to the woman at the well. He doesn’t see her in the same way that others see her, or that she sees herself. The failures and shortcomings – sin – are not the sum total of her life. Instead, He sees His imprint, His image in her life, and gives her hope that He can remove the stains of her life. Better yet, He uses those very stains when they are offered to Him – for His glory! Her humility, her honesty, her offering, are what give credibility to her message to the village, and what attract people to come hear words of hope from Messiah! Jesus enters the mess and ambiguity of their lives to give hope right where they are.
It is just the opposite with the majority of the Pharisees. They see themselves as above the “mess” of life, and do not believe God has anything to do with the untidiness of human dealings. Their own sin remains “hidden”. Ironically, it’s not really hidden. Jesus sees it, and so do others. But because of the lack of humility, honesty and offering of their life “as is”, Jesus cannot work with them. The first become last. But the last….they are first!
I am repeatedly amazed as I read the Big Story of God, at how willing He is to enter the messiness of human life – from the very moment of the fall! He keeps seeking us, wading into the muck of our existence, and responding if only we turn our face toward Him. It seems very small shreds of faith on our part are attractive enough for the Eternal One to make an investment of time, energy and love. Oh sure, He gets frustrated, angry even, when we willfully disobey. But He always provides a way to come back to Him.
I am learn to accept Him entering my messiness to continually bring restoration and healing! May I turn with the same offer as the woman in Samaria – “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out.” (Jn 4:29 The Message)