Summary: We are to see and serve and come to know Jesus in loving others.
“Have You Seen Jesus Lately?”
By: Rev. Kenneth Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
In his current number one best selling book “Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis” born again Christian and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter writes: “Sharing wealth with those that are starving and suffering unnecessarily is a value by which a nation’s moral values are measured, and there is a strange and somewhat disturbing situation in our country. Americans are willing to be generous in helping others—and they believe that our government gives as much as 15 percent of our federal budget in foreign aid.
But we are, in fact, the stingiest of all industrialized nations.
We allot about one-thirtieth as much as is commonly believed.” (see page 187)
And then he goes on to site the statistics.
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning Jesus tells us that when He returns “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”
The sheep are gathered on the right side of Christ—the side of approval and honor, and the goats on the left side—for condemnation.
And the criteria for judgment may be astonishing for some of us.
Christ does not ask anyone about their creeds or their standing in the community, but instead: “What have you done for the poor family on the other side of town? Ever make any visits to the local jail?”
The hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the naked, the physically afflicted, the oppressed, the poor…
…what have we done or not done for them?
If we were to survey the entire Bible we would find a reoccurring theme.
The righteous, the folks who are doing the will of God are those who take care of the poor, the widow, the child, the afflicted.
And this kind of action, on our part, demands a real self-denial.
For one thing, none of the sad souls that are mentioned can quickly pay us back.
We are to care for the least of these simply out of obedience to God’s Word and Spirit living inside of us.
We are told in 1 John Chapter 4: “let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Notice in our Gospel Lesson that the sheep came to know God through loving others.
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
A story is told of a little boy who wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his backpack with cupcakes, several cans of root beer and started on his journey to meet God.
When he had gone about 3 blocks, he saw an elderly woman sitting on a park bench watching the pigeons.
The boy sat down next to her and opened his backpack.
He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the lady looked hungry. So he offered here a cupcake. She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him.
Her smile was so wonderful that he wanted to see it again. So he offered a root beer as well. Once again she smiled at him.
The boy was delighted!
They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling without saying a word.
As it started to get dark, the boy realized how tired he was and wanted to go home.
He got up to leave but before he had gone no more than a few steps, he turned around and ran back to the old woman, giving her a big hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever.
When the boy arrived home his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked, “What has made you so happy today?”
He replied, “I had lunch with God.”
Before his mother could respond he added, “You know what? She’s got the most beautiful smile in the whole world!”
Meanwhile, the elderly woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home.
Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face. He asked, “Mother, what has made you so happy today?”
She replied, “I ate cupcakes in the park with God.”
And before her son could reply, she added, “You know, he is much younger than I expected.”
Have you seen Jesus lately? Have I?
In our Epistle Lesson for this morning that Jerry read earlier the Apostle Paul tells us: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened…”