Summary: 5th in this series. Concept borrowed by work from Tim Cook, a fellow preacher. A study of Mt 25 and how the Church should practice it.
Intro: Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV)
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 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. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 "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. 35 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, 36 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.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40 "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.' 41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' 45 "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' 46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
We have a lot going on at CCC, don’t we? This morning, not only did we bring this special offering for the building of wells in Andhra Pradesh, India, we also got to do the Chicken Dance with our preschoolers who raised money to provide chickens for people in need overseas. And then, Kit Gentis and his wife are with us today because we are partnering with IDES to build 10 sheds for victims of the tornadoes south of here. My head is spinning!
We’re not done yet! In fact, after this series is over, my hope is that we will have started a lifestyle of caring more for “The Least of These.” Today, we’re talking about strangers.
What do you mean, “Stranger”?
Kids, I’m not talking about people you see on the street that your parents warned you about. If you’re a little person, make sure that you have your parents with you when it comes to strangers! That’s not the kind of strangers we’re talking about today, OK?
A stranger, is me at Crimson Ridge. More than once, I’ve had employees there look at me and say, “You look real lost. Do you need help?” Oh yes, I do! Please, where is the tool section? Where is the fishing department?
Those couches at the mall, with men on them, sitting there with a dazed look on their face – those are strangers. Me at Bergners, in the women’s shoe department, when there’s a big sale on boots – that’s a stranger!
But when Jesus said in Matthew 25, “I was a stranger, and you took me in…” He wasn’t talking about sitting in the mall, was He? What was He talking about, and what was the big deal about taking Him in?
The phrase “invited me in” translates a single word – the word is actually the verb form of synagogue. It literally means “to gather together.” The synagogue was the place where the Jews gathered together. Jesus says, I was out of place, I was alone, I was surrounded by unwelcome and unfamiliarity, and you brought me in with you. You made Me belong with you.
Being “alienated” means being in a difficult position in life. It means being without a place of refuge; being in a vulnerable state; having no place to lie down and rest, no place to let down your guard.
There’s nothing to make you feel more out of place than not knowing the language being spoken around you. While I was writing this, I was at Panera Bread, and around me there were a couple families speaking only Spanish. I don’t. And right away I felt distant from them. Even though there were just a few feet from me, I felt a world of separation between us, because we speak a different language. Remember the tower of Babel? When God wanted the people of earth to spread out – to scatter – how did He get that to happen? He changed their languages. From there, everybody split up.