Saturday, September 26, 2009

They didn't know what they were doing right . . .

Last Sunday my pastor (Jeff Harrington – Central Community Church) preached on Matt 25, the parable of the sheep and the goats (vs 31-46). He pointed out something about the sheep that I’d never considered before.

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

The sheep had cared for the hungry and thirsty, the stranger, the sick and the prisoner simply as part of who they were, followers of Jesus. Apparently they didn’t get up in the morning and say “I’d better do some good today.” Caring for others was so natural to them that they didn’t even recognize it, or at least they didn’t recognize how different their actions were from the actions of the goats, those who were not caring for others.

Indeed, here in America there are many Christ followers who volunteer significant time and treasure. But we seem to be so aware of our “good-doing,” certainly I am of mine. Being aware of my good-doing helps me feel better about myself. I think this the problem with so much of western mission work today, especially short-term missions. We tend to make our plans through our own paradigms of what will help the hungry, thirsty, sick and imprisoned. We then march off to some community in the developing world, spend a few weeks “doing good” for the poor people, and return home feeling good about ourselves, but often having not really helped the people we went to serve.

But Jeff pointed out that Jesus seems to want our “good-doing” to be less strategized and organized (not to say that having strategy and organization is bad). The benefit of being the kind of sheep that are simply doing good as they follow Jesus, is that we’ll naturally filter our actions through the paradigms of those we serve, instead of our own, because that is what Jesus did.

The Shiselweni Home-Based Caregivers I’ve come to know in Swaziland are just these kind of sheep. They seem surprised by how amazed we are with the way they, who are so needy themselves (certainly by our standards), selflessly care for their neighbors. I think Jesus wants them to be our teachers. It’s not just that they show us we should be willing give of our time more generously, but that we should do so more naturally, like sheep who “don’t know what they are doing right,” so that the king will say to us “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (vs 33).


1 comment:

  1. Wendi, I get very emotional when I read things like this. I wonder if anyone anywhere will ever understand what those people in Swaziland are doing in my life. Thanks for sharing this. It is indeed a blessing to observe how those caregivers are setting us an example of Christian living.