‘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 and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’ -Matthew 25:34-40 (ESV)
Let me just say it: Christians don’t like Matthew 25. And as the scriptures Christians don’t like go, so goes Matthew 25. It is relegated to the catalogue of biblical obscurity, and ultimately pushed right out of many Christians’ mental back doors, never to be heard again in bible study or from the pulpit. In other words, Christians systematically “un-believe” it. The result is a tragedy—a tragedy we need to take seriously if we are to live faithfully in urban America.
We (the authors) think Matthew 25 is actually quite clear. Given the array of possible interpretations of, say, the beast rising out of the sea with ten horns and seven heads in Revelation 13, or the “woes” to the rich, the well fed, the laughers, and those spoken well of in Luke 6, Matthew 25 only has two possible interpretations. The first possibility: serving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, being hospitable to the stranger, clothing the naked, and caring for the sick is just like (similar to) serving Jesus. The second possibility: serving those in need and being with the suffering is actually (literally) serving Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »