There’s a frightening dimension to the social-political scene we’re going to be watching in the forthcoming months before the presidential election in 2020. You’ll find it in Matthew 25:31ff. It is the acid-test of who will be embraced in love by the Son of Man (Jesus), and who will be rejected and consigned to destruction at his coming again. It’s not the kind of Bible passage that you walk through lightly. But given what the political debates are going to be dealing with in the coming days, it’s hard to escape that the cosmic battle (which includes political values) includes the just and compassionate care of the helpless persons on our doorsteps. Note:

“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (now note the criteria) “For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison (detention camps?) and you came to me. … As you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.”

Now, back up and lay that list alongside what you are reading about the controversial issues that are being debated in the corridors of power and in the presidential and congressional debates that have to do with human need: health care for all, raised minimum wage, compassionate response to immigrants and refugees, care of God’s creation, environment, global warming, the huge number of those in prison for minor crimes, racism, gun control and violence, issues of justice, humanitarian response to the helpless poor on our doorstep, etc. Such difficult and costly solutions should absolutely be discussed in our Christian communities, as well as in political debates. (Pandering to the wealthy at such national is part of this complex issue).

Face it: from this Biblical text the cost of ignoring these issues, and these helpless people, is hazardous, i.e., you did it unto the least of these, … or you did it not unto the lease of these. These are personal, communal, as well as political issues. To whom our votes go, and what the platforms and policies of our government implements are for us a matter of either “Come you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, …” or: “and these will go away into eternal punishment”

Those of you who read these blogs are among the wealthiest people on earth comparatively. Our personal and communal support for the politicians, and church communities, and humanitarian organizations who are seeking to bring justice, provision, and practical love to this huge number of people at least gives us some means to provide for “the least of these.” The sobering reality is that we cannot be neutral or detached from “the least of these.”

[I always appreciate your responses. Let me hear from you.]

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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  1. Bill Serjak says:

    I have a slightly different take on that passage of Scripture. It looks to me as personal rather than organizational. It is about the way we are called to live our personal lives. I grow weary of celebrities pushing for the government to help the poor while they live in multi-million dollar mansions. The Lord might be asking them to live more simply and get to know poor people who they can help. That is the way each of us are called to live. Jesus did not come to change Rome. He came to change individuals. Nations are temporal; people are eternal.

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