Summary: God doesn’t judge from ouward appearance... but too often we do. What can we do to avoid that tendency?
OPEN: How many of you have ever watched “American Idol”?
(Nearly ½ the congregation raised their hands).
Ok, how many of you have ever seen “Britain’s Got Talent.”?
(A few hand went up)
That’s understandable since “Britain’s Got Talent” is aired in Britain. It’s the English cousin of our “American Idol” and it shares many things in common with our show.
• It has a stage where different acts from across the British Isles come to compete in a show of talent.
• It has three judges who vote to decide which acts will proceed to the next level.
• And it has Simon Cowell – the almost universally disliked judge who makes it his goal in life to belittle and put down any act that doesn’t meet his high standards.
Several weeks back a 47 year old Scottish woman competed on their show. Simon visibly smirked as this frumpy and unattractive singer walked onstage. Her hair was gray, thin, and un-styled. She was overweight. And it turns out that she was the last of nine children, had been deemed "slow" by her teachers, and had spent the bulk of her adult life taking care of aged and sick parents. As she explained that her dream was to be a professional singer the studio audience alternately groaned or giggled at her naïve aspiration. Everybody appeared ready to let her embarrass herself and leave the stage – so someone with real talent might emerge from the wings.
But what they saw that day was this (cue youtube video on Susan Boyle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY)
APPLY: God delights in the triumph of the weak.
In 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 we’re told
“…God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things— and the things that are not— to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”
God has always favored the weak,
The things that are “not”
In James 2:5 we’re told “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
The psalmist writes: “(God) raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people.” Ps 113:7-8
In Isaiah God says and “…if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10
And in Proverbs 22:9 we’re told
“A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.”
Repeatedly throughout the Old testament, God instructs His people to be careful to…
• take care of the widows and the orphans,
• to allow the poor to glean the edges of their fields
• to pray and fast and use the money you’d have spent on your food to give the poor.
And in the New Testament, the theme is repeated.
Jesus spent most of his time with the lower classes – the Lepers/ tax collectors/ prostitutes, etc, that the Pharisees grumbled about it.
Luke15:2 tells us “the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”
In Matthew. 25 Jesus talks about the Day of Judgment.
He tells us that on that great day God will separate the sheep from goats.
But what’s interesting is the criteria God will use to judge He accepts and those He doesn’t.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
For 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 me 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.’
"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.’ Mt 25:34-40
To the goats – who go into the fires of hell He says: