More Lamentations of Greatness

The following text is one of my favorites because it speaks directly on how we as individuals and as a nation might live fully into our humanity.  It comes from Matthew chapter 25 verses 31 through 46 in the New Revised Standard Version which I copied from http://www.biblegateway.com.  Take a minute and read these words carefully, it might just change your life.

31 “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. 32 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, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 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; 35 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, 36 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.’ 37 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? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 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,[g] you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” 

My friends I come to you as one who has been a Christian all of my life, and I speak to those of you who identify as Christians today.  I speak to you because those of you who claim Evangelical Christianity, (at least 81% of you) voted for the current sitting President as well as the Republican majority in the House and Senate.  I hope as you read these passages your heart is troubled by these words attributed to Christ.  I hope that you are able to see that these men, yes, they are mostly white men, you have elected to the highest office in the land and chose to govern us are in no way practicing what might even remotely be called Christianity. You have chosen to ignore all of the warning signs during the campaign; e.g. his sexism, his xenophobia, his homophobia, his racism, his possible and very likely criminal activity and said ok.  You who are so concerned about who’s sleeping with whom, you who are so concerned in promoting the Kingdom of God and a Christian hegemony, elected the very anti-Christ (not in a Revelation sense, but rather the anti of everything Jesus stood for) for power.  Yes, you sold out for political power sorry, it’s true and the sooner you realize it I think the better off you will be.  The sad part is, you don’t even get to reap the benefits of that power.  Do you really think those billionaires who bought our government are going to let you in on that??? I don’t think so.  You don’t understand your privilege and let a wolf into the sheep pen.  And by the way, it has pretty much been going on since our founding… Really… 241 years of mouthing platitudes about freedom and we are not even close to realizing it. 

Let’s break it down.  Verse 35 “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,” The Occupant has just released his 2019 budget and guess what?  SNAP (We called them Food Stamps back in my youth) is being cut drastically and he wants to hand out pre-packaged meals… Really?!?  Oh and by the way, do you know who gets the most SNAP benefits?  White people.  How is your winning so far?  You let Ronnie Reagan dog whistle you when he talked about welfare mothers, read here people of color and elected people who are going to take it all away from you.  Nice going.  The Occupant is gutting the EPA, so good luck getting a clean glass of water or having breathable air, or not living in a toxic wasteland… Of course there is the, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” part.  I don’t think that needs a lot of explanation given is xenophobic, anti-immigrant rants and legislation he is try to pass regarding Dreamers.  So far, we are 0 for 3 in what would Jesus do. 

Moving on to verse 36, we have “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.”  Well, it appears we’re not doing too much better there either.  As far as the naked thing, we have given a 1.5 Trillion dollar tax break to the richest in this country, making it harder for everyday families to clothe and take care of themselves.  Then there the whole being sick and getting a hand up… The Affordable Care Act, while not perfect did manage to make it easier to get health insurance and the Occupant, along with the Republican government, is doing its best to take even that away from you.  They won’t even entertain the idea of single payer or expanded Medicare and Medicaid.  Then, there is the prison thing.  Prisons for profit are immoral and unfairly targets people of color.  We can thank a history of racism for that.  In recent history we can thank Nixon and his “law and order” platform, along with Lee Atwater, as well as the current AG, Jeff Sessions for these abominations.  Well, we are 0 for 6 now in the “what would Jesus do scenario”, and I don’t see it getting any better unless we are willing to fundamentally shift our thinking on how we view our fellow human beings and how we treat them.

When I read the Gospels and see the stories of Jesus’ life, I find one who had friends everywhere.  He had rich friends, he had poor friends, and the most important part of this is that Jesus met with them all equally.  He, much to the scandal of the day, especially met with, ate with, and identified with those considered “unworthy” by regular society.  He ate with tax collectors, prostitutes, and those marginalized by society.  He met with, ate with, healed, and comforted those whom were left out.  Jesus calls on us to do the same.  Jesus recognized that all of humanity carried with it the divine image and breath and was worthy to share fellowship.  Throughout Jesus’ ministry we are shown by his own actions how to treat one another and we would be wise, if we dare to call ourselves Christian, to do the same.

In our verses, there is a promise… and a warning.  When they asked him when they did these things for him he replied, when you did it to the least of these you did it to me.  To them, the reward, the inheritance planned before the foundation of the world was given freely.  Those who did not were cast out.  These verses are commonly called “Judgment of the Nations” and if we are keeping score with our above Scriptures, we are not faring well.  We the people need to change and change quickly lest we be swept away by our common sin.  Like Nineveh, we need hear the prophet’s words and repent.

 

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