Five Questions for Christians

Seems like every true Christian should be able to answer most of these questions…

  • What is the name of a hungry person you recently fed?
  • What is the name of a thirsty person you recently gave a drink?
  • What is the name of an outcast or stranger you recently welcomed?
  • What is the name of a sick person (not in your family) you recently tended?
  • What is the name of a prisoner you recently visited in jail?

Immediately many of my friends who love to study the bible and learn the Greek root words of things will be outraged that I have set this as the standard for true Christianity rather than adherence to some doctrinal position like the “good church” they are a part of. The problem is, I didn’t set this standard, Jesus did. Let’s read what He says in Matthew 25 without explaining it away. What is the simple sense of this simple text?

[31] “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. [32] Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. [33] And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. [34] Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. [35] 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, [36] I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ [37] Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? [38] And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? [39] And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ [40] And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ [41] “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. [42] For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, [43] I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and  you did not visit me.’ [44] Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ [45] Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ [46] And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

You don’t need to go to seminary to understand what Jesus is saying. He is saying that 100% of the righteous people he will joyfully invite into the eternal kingdom of blessing will have done these things in His name.  Matthew Henry puts it this way “Good works done for God’s sake, through Jesus Christ, are here noticed as marking the character of believers made holy by the Spirit of Christ, and as the effects of grace bestowed on those who do them.”

It’s easy to debate the main and clear point Jesus is making by arguing over who the “these” are or how many of the five things are necessary to meet Jesus’ standard. If your first inclination is to do this then I would be very concerned for the state of your soul. I don’t say that in a mean way, I’m just reading verses 45-46.

Genuine Christianity gave us orphanages, an end to the slave trade, disaster relief and mass care, medical care for the poor, workplace safety and all sorts of other kindness to the materially poor and socially outcast. Jesus Himself set this example showing earthly kindness to people who He knew would never believe on Him. These five questions, taken literally from the standard Jesus says He will use at the final judgment, are a great diagnostic for whether your theology is made worthwhile by getting to your hands and feet.

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