Who are we really?

Several weeks ago at church I had one of those “ah-ha” moments.  It all seemed to fall into place for one brief moment and I have been thinking about it ever since.

The scripture was from Matthew 25: 31-46, the parable of the sheep and goats.  Like many parables it leaves you wondering what exactly Jesus was trying to say and knowing that there are many, many layers to meaning of the parable.  In the parable the King separates the righteous from the unrighteous saying of the righteous (categorized as sheep) “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 in, 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.”  The righteous ask when they ever saw their Lord in any of these situations and he replies ” I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”   Then he goes on to say that the goats, or unrighteous, did non of those things for him and are excused from his presence.

This is a difficult parable for me to digest.  If taken at face value it suggests that come judgement time (whatever that is supposed to mean) those who did not do the right thing will be cast aside into “eternal punishment.”  There has to be more to it than that.  Our minister did a wonderful job of peeling back the layers of this onion…

Christ has not forgotten the least and the little and the lost; in fact not only has Christ not forgotten, but is so close to them that whenever something is done for them it is not LIKE doing something for Christ, it is doing something for Christ.  The world may not see that – power structures being what they are – but Christ the King on the throne has become enthroned into that manger called hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, imprisoned.

Christ is all around us.  In the beautiful and the awful.  It’s easy to find him in the beauty of nature or the miracle of a newborn baby but he is just as present in the homeless bum under the overpass, just as present in an abused or malnourished child, just as present in the twisted soul of a convict on death row and even just as present in the annoying co-worker.  He is also just as present in our own self.  Whether we know it or not or even chose to recognize it…he is there.  But wait.  There is even more to this stinky onion…

The news that is good in the parable is that we have been given a point of reference from which to see life…Who are we really?  Are we what so much of culture says we are – consumers whose objective purpose is acquiring?  Are we conquerors whose purpose is to win and get our way?  Are we objects of gratification for ourselves and for others – the measure and meaning of which is that insatiable standard called personal pleasure?  Who are we really?  Jesus lays down alongside this world obsessed by consumption, conquering, and acquisition another way – that way which has been prepared since the foundation of the world – that cruciform way of living and being called compassion and care, redemption and restoration.  That’s who we really are, really.

Who we really are is Christ in us.  Unlimited potential is there we just have to recognize it and tap into it.  Finally an analogy was given of a medieval tale…

…the tiger cub whose mother dies and so he is subsequently raised by a pack of goats – taking on all the qualities of a goat and none of the tiger until that one day when the king tiger happens by and discovers this cub who is not living out what he is created to be.  So the father tiger takes the cub to the river to see his reflection and then he lets him hear how a tiger is created to sound.  The king tiger says, “Follow me little one, and I will help you become the grand thing you are created to be.”

8 Responses

  1. Hugs, Kisses and Snot

    Ah, ha, this is primarily the message that Major Ian Thomas from the Torchbearer’s Ministry preached his whole life — The Indwelling Life of Christ, All of Him in All of Me. MOM

  2. Brian Yu

    Many years ago, I remember rummaging around my head trying to figure out what Jesus meant when he said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”. Really? FOR Jesus? I couldn’t understand it until I realized just how much Jesus loved the lost, the outcasts, the abused, etc. And when I love these people, I love them as an instrument of Jesus and for Jesus!

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