The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part LII
“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. For I was hungry and you game me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. 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.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and fed you, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invited you in, or needing clothes and cloth you?’ The king will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of those brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25: 35-40)
What is the reward in the infamous passage of “the sheep and the goats” found in Mathew 25? The reward is collecting your inheritance, alias the kingdom of God that was prepared for you since the creation of the world! If you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, cloth the naked, visit the sick, and visit those in prisons, your reward is the kingdom. The 21st Century Church needs to ask “what is the kingdom”? What is this reward I am working so diligently for?
Today churches strive for big congregations, excellent worship and preaching from the front stage, a professionally looking program, large children’s programs, dynamic high powered youth programs, a vibrant small group ministry, fiscal stability, and growth in numbers. What is their reward?
“I was a stranger and you invited me in.” I ask, “into where?” I don’t think this scripture implies into what we think is a church facility today, but into your own home, hospitality is the key. We invite friends in to “Super Bowl Parties” in our homes, but do we invite strangers? Did you ever make your home a home to the homeless? Are you willing to invite a stranger in for a “coffee” or “tea” just to socialize with them, befriend them? Did you ever invite an “x-con”, one just released from the hell of prison, to come into your home and be part of a loving Christian family to detoxify them from prison life? When is the last time you have taken care of someone sick who was not a family member? Have you reached out to a widow or widower or the elderly living in your community? That is what Jesus is talking about: individuals touching individuals. And the reward is your inheritance of the kingdom of God – changed lives. When you do these things people see Jesus in YOU!
So programs by the government and church are nice because it looks like a group effort, but it is so easy to hide behind the “program’s” coat tails and let others do it, professionals or nonprofessionals. If you take your Christian faith seriously, then YOU have been called to do it! If the 21st Century Church is to be an effective Church, then YOU have to do it. I have to do it. Together the body of Christ has to do it. Taking care of the poor, the sick, the hungry, the widows, their hurting has always been themes central to the gospel, not taking care of “business”, no matter if it is “church business” or our own “personal business”.
What is this kingdom of God Jesus has given us as our inheritance? Jesus explained it in parables, so only those the Holy Spirit chose to understand it would, and the rest would wonder about its mysterious meaning. The same is true today. The Holy Spirit MUST be the agent to reveal the kingdom to us. The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, so small, yet when planted becomes a huge tree of expanse. YOUR little faith, planted in the Word of God, both written and living, can produce branches of fruit. That is the kingdom. There are so many more parable. I challenge you to read them.
The 21st Century Church has nothing to do with buildings, with programs, with developing staffs, with growth in numbers; it has to do with YOU! If you have a heart for evangelism, release it and do it! If you have a heart for nurturing, caring, or hospitality, a shepherding heart, release it and care, share, nurture! If you have a heart to dig into the Word of God, the Bible, to find revelation and truth, dig, do it! If you have the heart to commune more with God, seek his presence, seek it, do it! If you have the heart for the body of Christ, for its development, then let it develop in you, receive it! If Jesus has prepared an inheritance since the creation of the world for you, receive it! RECEIVE THE KINGDOM!