Today is Christ the King Sunday, the
last Sunday of the Christian year, a day we celebrate the
coming reign of Jesus Christ and the completion of creation.
To this end as Christians look to the
reign of Christ they have always recognized the terrible
contrast between heaven and hell, as we look to the future
with glorious anticipation, life eternal with Christ.
But still, even in the midst of this
great jubilee we realize we will also be judged. It's not a
question of "if we will be judged," it's a question of when.
We will be judged based on all we have done in this life, and
all we haven't done.
This can kind of numb the celebration
can't it? The fact Jesus himself will judge us is a sobering
and perhaps fearful thought. Yet at the same time judgment is
connected to the ultimate hope, eternal life. A hope that in
all of his glory God will be both just and merciful as he
Our Gospel reading this morning is an
explanation of the parables, which come earlier in the
chapter. It's also a strong statement of truth that judgment
will come, and every person shall be sentenced to a state of
everlasting happiness, or misery. Christ will come, not only
in the glory of his Father, but in his own glory as Mediator.
The wicked and godly dwell here on
this earth together in our communities, our churches, and our
families, and are not always known one from the other. But on
the day when the great Shepherd Jesus comes to judge, the
wicked will be separated from the godly like the goats are
separated from the sheep.
All other distinctions will be done
away with; but the great distinction between saints and
sinners, holy and unholy, will remain forever.
The happiness the saints will possess
is very great. The kingdom is prepared. In the greatness of
his wisdom and power God has provided his kingdom for the
holy; Jesus has purchased it for us with his blood; and the
Holy Spirit now prepares us for the kingdom through God's
As Christians it's our belief that we
can't express ourselves more clearly about our duties before
God than by saying: "How we live in this world makes all the
difference between heaven and hell in the world to come."
However, we must remember we are not
redeemed by our good works, but rather by faith alone. Yet at
the same time we will never be redeemed without good works.
Saved souls must do their duty before
God and others. James says, "As the body without the spirit is
dead, so faith without works is dead."
True faith always results in good
deeds. We can't simply say we believe and then just sit and do
nothing. Yes, faith brings us salvation, but active obedience
to our faith demonstrates that our faith is genuine. We must
hold fast to the belief that we are saved by faith alone,
however we must also affirm that no one can continue to be
saved without doing God's will on earth.
As Jesus said, "Not everyone who says
to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only
the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." (Matthew
We all have our God given
responsibilities in this world. We are called to carry forward
God's work, reach out beyond the pews in everything we do, as
long as we live here.
Then, and only then, can we hope to
hear those words that are perhaps the most pleasing words
anyone can hear, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take
your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the
creation of the world." (Matthew 25: 34)
When we are looking for a job we spend
a great deal of time putting together a compelling resume
listing all of our accomplishments, all of our education
credentials and performance successes. We also provide names
and phone numbers of folks who will provide wonderful
references for us if called by a potential employer.
But when we face God's judgment it's
not about our human-made resume that matters, it's about our
God-given life. Jesus will be concerned about our motivation.
What is the intention of our heart?
Many people do good things to help
people, but why? What is there motivation? If their motivation
is a tax break, personal glory, or wanting to receive
something in return, then their good deed is flawed, and will
be judged by Jesus as such.
Jesus cares about the intention of our
hearts. Do we act and give unconditionally out of love alone,
or do we have some other motive? This is what Jesus is
When we stand before the throne of God
he won't ask what kind of car we drive, but he'll ask how many
people we drove who didn't have transportation.
God won't ask the square footage of
our house, but he'll ask how many people we welcomed into our
God won't ask about the clothes we
have in our closet, but how many we helped to clothe.
God won't ask us our social status;
he'll ask what kind of class we displayed.
God won't ask how many material
possessions we had, but he'll ask if they dictated our lives.
God won't ask what our highest salary
was, but he'll ask if we compromised our character to get it.
God won't ask how much overtime we worked, but he'll ask if
our overtime was for our family or for ourselves.
God won't ask how many friends we had,
but he'll ask how many people to whom we were a friend.
God won't ask what neighborhood we
lived in, but he'll ask how we treated our neighbors.
God won't ask what we did to protect
our rights, but he'll ask what we did to protect the rights of
God won't ask about the color of our
skin, but he'll ask about the content of our character.
God won't ask how many times our deeds
matched our words, but he'll ask how many times they didn't.
God won't ask why it took us so long
to seek salvation, but he'll lovingly take us to our mansion
in heaven, and not to the gates of hell. When Donald and
Simmie Godwin took their four-year-old grandson camping at
Lake Superior, they received a basic lesson in theology.
When a bad thunderstorm came up, the
flashes of white light fascinated the little boy. He watched
the sky light up for several minutes then gave his commentary:
"Look! Jesus is taking my picture."
The truth is our activities and
attitudes never escape the attention of God. It's as if God
were constantly taking our picture. We may hide our motivation
or intent from others, but God knows.
May lightening, every time we see it,
remind us of this truth.
One day we will stand before the
throne of God, we will hold our lives in our hands, and we
will render account. In judging us God will surely consider
all that we have been given, all of our opportunities and
advantages, and we will be judged. Jesus died for our sins. He
took all sins of humankind upon himself and was crucified.
When Jesus reappeared with his resurrected body, he was
unrecognizable by even his closest followers.
His only recognizable feature were the
scars from the nails which had pierced his flesh, these are
the scars of sin, your sins and my sins.
We too have scars from the sins we
have committed. Yes, God has forgiven us, if we have truly
repented, but the scars still remain.
I have a former neighbor who was very
active in his local church, well mannered and well liked, as
was his wife and family. Well one day several years ago he
snapped and killed his wife. He has sought forgiveness and I
am convinced God has forgiven him, but he will bear the scars
of his sin the rest of his life. And he will continue to
suffer the consequences of his sin as he sits in jail for the
rest of his life.
But as bad as sinning is, especially
killing someone, I can't help but wonder how through our sins
we change the course of life and creation. After all God has a
purpose for every one of us, as well as, for his creation.
What impact have our sins had on the created order?
When we throw trash on the roads, dump
anti-freeze down the sewer, abuse our neighbors, ignore those
in need, how have we changed God's purpose for creation and
This is heavy stuff isn't it? But it's
important, because we too often dismiss sinning as something
that will be forgiven for so we need not worry. But our sins
do matter and they do effect eternity.
Sometimes judgment comes, not directly
from God, but through life, when we are made to stare in the
mirror of honesty, and made to see ourselves as we really are.
This can be a scary moment, but this
can also be a redemptive moment. Can we stand in front of a
mirror today, look at ourselves, and honestly say "well done?"
I believe we all can, sometimes. We
have all had moments when we have demonstrated mercy and
kindness out of love.
But if we are honest with ourselves,
we also have to admit we've had moments of greed and
self-centeredness as well, and we carry the scars of our sins
related to such acts.
Perhaps it's God's judgment that we
carry the scars of our sins. The scars may be in our memories,
perhaps they're physical or mental. But scars do remind us of
what we have done so that in the future we will make better
Jesus scars remind us of all that he
has done for us, and they remind us of his love, and the hope
that comes through the cross.
Yes there is hope. Our hope comes from
knowing that God forgives us if we truly repent, we have hope
knowing that God can change us, and that God never gives up on
us, even when we give up on ourselves. Our judge is Jesus the
Christ, the one who loved us, even enough to die for us, who
returned to us even after we had betrayed him, and he forgave
The one who has never given up on us
will judge, and what will his judgment be?
Someone once said, "A time is coming
for all people when they will either be born again, or wish
they had never been born at all."
Well my prayer is that we all will
experience the new birth in Christ, and that we will be
faithful to our call, so when we stand before Jesus his first
response is "welcome home my brothers and sisters, welcome