Read: Matthew 25:31-46
“Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” 1John 3:18
When John wrote these words to the early church he no doubt had witnessed what every generation has witnessed: it is much easier to say that “we love everyone” than it is to actually do it. John is calling early Christians to account. John is laying down a challenge, perhaps the greatest challenge of the Christian faith: living and loving the way Jesus lived and loved.
For many being “children of God”, is more about the theological assent of a series of doctrines than it is about “doing the will of the Heavenly Father” (Mark 3:35). The battle for “right belief” or orthodoxy can be perilous. In history protestants have burned catholics at the stake, and catholics have burned protestants at the stake, over concern for “right doctrine”, but devoid of love.
While the quest for “right belief” is important, in Jesus’ life and ministry, He was much more concerned about how we live out our beliefs, particularly as we love our “neighbor” whom He defined in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Samaritans were the group Jews were most appalled at and offended by; they were considered forsaken and judged by God. Someone once said, “the people your God loves or hates, says more about you, than it does about God.” True.
In the scripture reading from Matthew 25, the famous parable of the sheep and goats, Jesus reveals an important spiritual truth. Both groups call Him, “Lord”. Both groups correctly identify that He is Lord. But only one group puts belief into loving action. One group does more than just say, “of course we love everyone”, while neglecting the poor, hungry, thirsting, sick, lonely, imprisoned, etc..
“Orthodoxy” means “right-belief”, and it has value. “Orthopraxy” is “right-action”, and that was even more concerning to Jesus. Jesus says we need faith, even a little bit – even as little as a mustard seed. And Jesus says, “Love one another as I have loved you”, and that’s a BIG challenge.
Shalom, Pastor Rob Nystrom