“Photos don’t lie”
A brief read of today’s Gospel text brings so many questions to me, and mostly in would questions about my outward actions and I don’t like it. Doing good works for salvation, fair dinkum most of the time I can hardly stand upright never mind be upright and tick all the boxes that this text seems to require.
Thinking of when I feed the hungry, welcome all strangers, give out cloths to those in need and visit all the sick and those in jail gives me nightmares of judgement day like being on family feud and the three big crosses and the “eeeng” sound appearing between me and the judge. Sought of like we’ve surveyed one hundred people about your life and none of them gave you those answers.
So what to do? Well if I’m lost I might as well live for today and as I’m too old to change occupations again, I’m thinking I might brush up on my scripture so that I can use it to suit myself, somehow start a following where everyone sells all their assets and gives them toward the cause, being me. Buy a property in the hills and have 10 to 15 wives and live it up until our secret services decide enough is enough and storm the compound.
As inviting as that sounds, I still wouldn’t mind catching up with all you guys in eternity so I might take the alternate option and get myself a stainless steel diary, seek out at least one person per day in each of the categories, engrave each’s name in the book and so when raised on the last day, I grab my unperishable book of good works so that when I get to the front on the line at the pearly gates and when asked by St. Peter or whoever’s on that day of my worthiness we can have a conversation like this.
Well Mr. Hibbard to enter you must acquire one hundred points.
I thought so and so I have prepared this extensive catalogue of everything good I’ve ever done.
After a brief perusal, the gate keeper says very well-that gets you one point, what else do you have to offer.
Well, ur, uh-I was a Pastor of the Church.
Oh, O.K. then, you now have a tally of two points.
Things are not going well but then I notice one of the people I visited on the streets queue jumping and walking straight past me into the Holy City.
Hang on I say, I know that guy and he walked straight past and he didn’t even have his diary with him.
In which St. Peter replies Oh he doesn’t play your silly humanistic games.
Maybe I should build that harem in the woods. Or maybe I just should through myself at the feet of Christ and beg for His mercy and hear Jesus say, finally you get it.
As with much that the inspired Word of God teaches us, it’s about getting the horse back in front of cart.
To not say when I get my earthly possessions in order then I’ll serve the Lord, but to serve the Lord amongst our daily work now.
To not say, when I get my sin in order then I’ll be able to serve you, but to serve the Lord now amongst all our shortcomings and failures of being that great shining Christian on the hill.
And most importantly, to realise that our good works don’t even equate to being worth one ounce in the cargo of a convey of a thousand road trains towards our salvation, and see that the only possible way of salvation is not because of us and our deeds, but rather because of us and our limitations it is through the saving actions of Jesus Christ on the cross who still says today as he did to those he acquainted on the dusty roads in Israel-to the Jewish elite, to the prostitutes and to an unwashed career criminal on a cross next to him, that to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, To believe He came to this earth to take our sins on himself and to have faith in His promise that in all this, you are forgiven in Him and in Him alone-your sins are forgiven and you will most surely as you sit here today-will enter the heavenly city not sneaking in through the back door, but ushered in by Christ himself amongst the euphoria of endless multitudes of angels singing and praising your arrival through your saviour, Jesus.
And that picture, which has already been taken and developed by God himself in his office in eternity is the freedom that allows us now to if not develop it here on earth, but to add some colour to our neighbours pictures and bringing a little sunshine to those in their cells of loneliness, addiction and grief.
Free to do so. What a great thing. To not have to worry about how you’ll pay off your heavenly mortgage because it’s been paid out already. To not worry about the path of destruction behind us because we see that in our rear view mirror that even in that somehow God has used it for others and indeed for us to be here today and know the truth of His unending grace.
So together we through ourselves at our Lord’s feet and receive grace, forgiveness and salvation-and in that absolute fact, how could we do anything than help each other, our friends we know and those we don’t-because we are free to do so-thanks be to God. Amen.