This gospel is always one of the hardest to deal with in a sermon for me, because it convicts me so deeply.
Jesus sets forth a very clear and simple standard for our lives as disciples, and I know how badly I’m failing at it.
Am I feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and welcoming the stranger every day?
Maybe if I stretch the interpretation and say that I’m feeding the spiritually hungry, I can give myself some cover.
But honestly, I’m a fundamentalist and a literalist about these types of texts, and I know the truth about my life.
Jesus in the gospels virtually never tells us what to believe.
He tells us what to do.
And what he tells us to do over and over again is to care for and empower the poor, the oppressed, and the most vulnerable in our society.
I fear that I’m not really doing that, at least not in any way that requires much sacrifice or initiative from me, and I doubt I’m alone in this room in that cringing realization.
Reading a text like this honestly, and facing up to the fact that we’re not doing what Jesus has asked of us—that is a painful, frustrating, guilty and helpless state of mind.
We call that state of mind “being convicted.”
It hurts so much that I started to ask: what is the value or the function of this feeling of conviction in our spiritual lives? Continue reading