Thursday, May 3, 2007

David Kuo on "the Least of These"

Wow. Two days in a row, David Kuo posts a great comment on his blog. The topic this time? Mathew 25 ("the least of these"), Angelia Jolie and James Dobson. You need to read the whole thing, but here is a sampling:

I am absolutely convinced about several things. I am convinced of every word of the Nicene Creed. I believe in the virgin birth, I believe Jesus sat in the temple as a boy and amazed the rabbis with his knowledge of God. I believe in everything from turning water into wine to his death, resurrection, and ascension. I believe he will one day reappear. I believe those things.


But as certainly as I believe those things I also believe - by necessity, not by choice - other things, scary things, intimidating things. I believe, for instance, that Jesus' words at the end of the 25th chapter of Matthew's Gospel are true [.]

. . .

Those words should absolutely terrify every person who purports to follow Jesus. Every person who has uttered any words that they want their lives to be about following Jesus must come face to face with those words. Because in those words Jesus does not say, "If you say 'I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior' you will enter heaven." No, Jesus throws the eternal curve ball. Jesus says faith must mean something serious and sacrificial when it comes to helping those who are sick and imprisoned and hurting and THAT matters when it comes to that final question of who gets into heaven.

So with that thought in mind I return to Angelina Jolie. She is not, based on my knowledge, someone who describes herself as a "Christian." She doesn't write "Christian" books and she doesn't make "Christian" movies - at least in the way that some "Christians" define such things. But I find it hard to believe that at the end of days she won't meet Jesus' gaze and perhaps be shocked to find him saying to her, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." On that day I am betting she will get an eternal reward.

Now, what about Jim Dobson? What about me? I feel like my chances are the worst of all. Despite all of the political things that Jim Dobson has done that I so fundamentally disagree with there is also the reality that he started a ministry called Focus on the Family that - when it was actually focused on the family - did (and still does) great things to help people. Millions of families have benefited from his advice and counsel about raising kids. He is encouraging adoption. He has done much. Again, I want to emphasize that I am NOT pronouncing spiritual judgment about any individual - rather I am using his life and Jolie's life as examples.

Me? I don't know. I knew someone once who said that his career goal was to get into heaven. I didn't really understand it at the time. I thought it was kind of glib or cute. I think I get it now. I think I get more and more every day that getting to heaven is something that requires effort, not just something that can be taken for granted. No one "deserves" heaven. But the more I look at Jesus' standards the more convinced I am that I think I am the least deserving - at least between Angelina and Jim. I am working to change that.


Read it all.

In this post, David manages both to hit on a tough issue of theology--faith versus works as a means to salvation--and also to hit on our obligations as Christians in the world. For what its worth, I read Paul's letter to the Romans as stating that faith, as a gift from grace, means a spiritual transformation that would cause us to take seriously the obligations described by Jesus in Mathew 25.

And I think Matthew 25 means that each of us has to taken very seriously the fact that one billion people live in extreme poverty in the world.

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