Sheep versus Goats
Orthopraxy is not a substitute orthodontist. The actual World English Dictionary defines it as: “The belief that right action is as important as religious faith.”
All my evangelical Christian life I’ve heard that we are justified by faith alone. Now before you get suspicious that I’m about to say something heretical, know that I strongly believe that the only path to heaven is through repentance and personal faith in Christ. That said I was stunned by something I read, or didn’t read, in Matthew 25. It’s a familiar passage I’ve read many times before. It’s included it below. I’ll meet you at the bottom after you’ve read it.
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
What’s your first thought, besides it sucks to be a goat? For me the lights went off in my head with the realization that this passage says what seems like the opposite of faith alone to enter heaven. Those who reached out to help the lowest people in human societies were granted access to heaven by God. Their faith wasn’t mentioned. Here’s the deal—when we come to Christ, I mean really go all the way with Christ, love fills our heart. It fills it so much that we begin to think less about ourselves and more about others. If we are not helping others I now wonder if Christ is really there. It’s not so much about the good deeds we do; it’s about a heart filled with God’s love that naturally leads to the good deeds. Most people get a warm fuzzy feeling when they help the less fortunate. This is something much more profound than a warm fuzzy feeling. It’s about letting God’s love come into our life and take over. That can only happen through faith in Christ and asking each day for God’s love. There are eternal consequences for inaction. We can’t work our way to heaven but that’s not an excuse to do nothing. I don’t want to be a goat.