When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me (Matthew 25:31-36).
I keep thinking I’m done for a while with this theme, but I guess I should not assume. It’s selfish really. I just don’t like writing about these things anymore. The irony and the working of the Lord is really something. Anyhow, let’s get to it.
When we read this on the surface, it is fairly straight-forward isn’t it? As Christians, we are told that what we do to the least of our brethren, we also do to the Lord. On an individual level, we should always feed the hungry, take in those in need, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and minister to those in prison. Of course, we cannot look at this and create a check-off list and beat ourselves up if we have not visited people in prison or taken a stranger into our home. I haven’t. As situations arise, we want to rise to the occasion and consider how Jesus would want us to treat the afflicted.
However, that is not the point of this article. This article does not concern your average Christian, but our leaders, teachers, preachers — even little-known blog writers. We should be asking ourselves some important questions.
What are we feeding the flock?
The word of God is our daily bread, right? What are we feeding the Lord’s sheep? Are we feeding them a bread crumb trail that leads to deadly poison, or are we feeding them the word of God in context and in truth? Are we starving our flock to death because they never come off of the milk because we are too afraid to say the meatier things that are necessary?
Is the flock dying of thirst?
Are we leading the flock to the living fountain of water, which is the Holy Spirit? Or, do we deny the Holy Spirit? Do we discourage people from seeking the gifts of the Holy Spirit or worse yet tell them that they should not expect to receive him with power? Do we teach people how to seek the Holy Spirit, how to listen to the Holy Spirit, how to practice walking after the Spirit and overcome the snares of the flesh?
Do we welcome outsiders?
When we encounter people who’s sins are obvious, people who are poor, those from other cultures or backgrounds, do we treat them like strangers or do we welcome them? Is our gatherings more of a social club that’s only fit for those who live like we do, or do we represent the Lord in humility, love, compassion, and mercy?
Are we clothing the flock properly?
Are we helping the flock prepare their wedding garment, or are we telling them that they can get into the wedding supper just as they are? Christians are supposed to be going through a change of heart. We are supposed to be growing in the things of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. We should encourage our brothers and sisters to put on Christ and to seek the things of the Lord sincerely, and in so doing, we will conform to His image over time.
Do we care for the spiritually afflicted?
How do we care for those who are afflicted with sin? Do we preach forgiveness that comes when we repent and forgive others, or do we water that down and neglect to bring forth fruits fit for repentance? Do we hammer people with the word of God and make them feel too ashamed to approach the Lord, or do we go the other extreme and act as if their sin is no big deal? Do we lay heavy burdens of law that mimic outward righteousness, or do we provide the understanding of grace in proper measure that teaches us about real freedom that comes from a change within?
Are we releasing people from prison or leaving them there?
Sin is a prison. Are we leaving the flock in prison? Are we preaching a fruitless gospel that does not lead the flock to actual healing and freedom from sin tangibly? Are we binding the flock with the chains of legalism or prosperity preaching? Are we making children of hell or children of the promise?
These are extremely basic explorations of the above ideas. Each really warrants its own article, so I will have to do that. For now, I hope we all will consider these things, especially if we are charged with caring for the Lord’s flock.