The blessing and curse that is pronounced by Jesus is based on two indisputable facts. The first indisputable fact comes from a conversation between Jesus and an Israelite teacher named Nicodemus. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:3). The sheep are those who have been born again by the Spirit of God. These sheep have been made alive and received the gift of faith; all from God. The goats are those who remain in darkness and “do not obey the Son” and “the wrath of
God remains on him” (Jn 3:36).
The second indisputable fact comes from within Matthew 25. We are given opportunities on a daily basis to interact with the risen Christ, touching him not only in our gathering as saints, but also among the least of these. When we interact with the poor, we experience an integration of heaven and earth. The eternal and temporal. The infinite and finite. Often we are in search of transcendent meaning and purpose during our Christian journey. It is amazing that Christ states this opportunity waits for us. Christ as a homeless man or woman waits to meet us on the freeway exit. Christ waits as sick child in Arkansas Children’s Hospital or in the ICU of your local hospital. Christ waits as a felon in the department of corrections longing for community. Yes, Christ waits as an immigrant who has broken laws in order to find shalom. Reread this list for a moment. In verses 35-39 we need to see that this was not “far off” ministry in which money was sent only. This involved the sheep being in a very close proximity to those in suffering. I believe that what we see here are men and women so transformed by the Gospel their response resembles their Savior. These sheep go forward “proclaiming good news to the poor, recovering of sight to the blind, setting at liberty those who are oppressed” (Lk 4). We have the opportunity to experience a preview of new heavens and earth as we meet with the least of these. The indisputable fact is that sheep are not only born again to enjoy God but they will find glimpses of new creation.
In many of our Christian traditions we appropriately teach we can experience the presence of the Trinitarian God in baptism, the Lord’s Table, corporate worship, and Scripture reading. Where are the hungry and thirsty in your city? Who are the homeless and immigrant, the incarcerated and naked which populate your city? Have you seen, spoken and/or touched the least of these? The Scriptures offer us a future reality that we can experience in a tangible way, now. In all of our discussions about “the end times,” “blood moons,” and the “state of Israel,” to usher in the day of the Lord, we have missed the mark, failing to realize we can touch new heavens and earth-the presence of Christ-in the lives of the “least of these.”
Here are the opportunities given to Christians in Arkansas to interact with Christ. In your state 19.7% live at or below the poverty line. Visit your county Sheriff and ask are they in need of bible studies. What elderly homes are in your city that have men and women who are sick and in need of prayer? In Northwest Arkansas and Central Arkansas we have the highest populations of undocumented men, women, and children. How can the Church serve these persons? I assure you that the poor are among us and Christ is calling us to them. Imagine the in-breaking of new creation on a daily basis as individual Christians and groups shift their efforts to be face to face with Jesus himself.
"What will be the result of our interactions with the poor?"