Summary: Thanksgiving Views: I’ve got a lot and I’m really happy about it....OR....God is my maker and I’m grateful He allows me to participate with Him in ministry
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you? And the king will answer them, Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. (NRSVA)
A young lady named Sally took a seminary class taught by Professor Smith, who was known for his elaborate object lessons. One day Sally walked into class to find a large target placed on the wall, with several darts resting on a nearby table. Professor Smith told the students to draw a picture of someone they disliked or someone who had made them angry-and he would allow them to throw darts at the person’s picture.
Sally’s friend (on her right), drew a picture of another woman who had stolen her boyfriend. Another friend (on her left), drew a picture of his younger brother. Sally drew a picture of Professor Smith, putting a great deal of detail into her drawing, even drawing pimples on his face! She was quite pleased at the overall effect she’d achieved.
The class lined up and began throwing darts amidst much laughter. Some of the students threw with such force that they ripped apart their targets. But Sally, looking forward to her turn, was filled with disappointment when Professor Smith asked the students to return to their seats so he could begin his lecture.
As Sally fumed about missing her chance to throw the darts, the professor began removing the target from the wall.
Underneath the target was a picture of Jesus. A hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled image of their Savior-holes and jagged marks covered his face. His eyes were virtually pierced out.
Professor Smith said only these words, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."(1) Another translation reads: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me, you did it to me. (2)
This has always been a passage that leaves me with a little bit of sadness. That sadness is for the fact that the sheep didn’t recognize the Shepherd to whom they were ministering. The sadness I feel is for myself as a sheep, missing my Shepherd.
It’s not hard to see the value of what Billy Graham does when he is preaching a crusade on TV to untold millions, and thousands walk forward to accept Christ during the invitation. It’s not hard to see the value of Calcutta’s Mother Teresa, and how the little wrinkled nun walked as a humanitarian giant through the 20th century. It is so easy to see the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child. These are great people and gigantic endeavors.
What is difficult to see is Christ in the center of what I do every day, and the choices I have to make about being selfish or generous; I have trouble deciding if I will give a cup of cold water in His name today.
As I read the words of Jesus describing the judgment of the nations I am more than ever impressed with the growing wideness between the world’s opinion of life and what Jesus said our life should be like. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, it will mean different things to people.
The worldly view of celebration goes something like, I’ve got a lot, and I’m gonna celebrate just how much I have accomplished, and how my success really makes me happy. The Pilgrim’s view was, God has blessed us, and we who could have been blown-away like chaff in the wind are here and alive because of the hand of God’s Providence; we shall worship Him!