Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Rooted in Loving and Serving

Rooted in Loving and Serving
MT 25:31-40 (February 11, 2018)
If we want to abide in God’s love and be rooted in him, then we must embrace his lifestyle of serving people.
In “The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats,” Jesus says that we should serve others as if we were serving Jesus himself.
In this parable, Jesus says both “the king” and “the hungry, the thirty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the prisoner” are no other than he himself.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (MT 25:35, 36)
So with a great perplexed expression, the righteous asks the king:
Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? (MT 25:37-39)
In return, the King says,
I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (MT 25:40)
Isn’t this Parable quite interesting to you?
Why does Jesus command us to serve “the least”?
It is for the reason that serving those who can’t pay back has a pretty good chance of proving a true act of sacrificial love.
The reason for us to serve the hungry, the thirty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the prisoner is that we want to imitate the sacrificial love that Jesus Christ has shown for us beforehand.
For another, serving the least is a good way for us to become humble and go into the path to greatness in heaven. The best way that makes us humble is that we go down to the lowest and serve the people there.
Jesus challenges us as follows: “If you want to love Me, here’s how you do it: Visit Me when I’m in prison. Clothe Me when I’m naked. Feed Me when I’m hungry.”
We manifest our love for Jesus by serving the needy. We simply cannot say that we love Jesus and live for Him without actually loving and serving the needy around.
There’re many important things that help our spiritual journey - such as active participations in worship, bible study, koinonia, evangelism, mission and etc..
However, one of the most obvious attributes to the maturity of our faith is our love and service to those who are in need.
Jesus said he came to serve in this world.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (MK 10:45)
Thus, Dr. John Stott, world-wide evangelical leader, pointed out that the best statement to describe Jesus' life and death can be found in MK 10:45.
That's right. Jesus came to this world to serve. So he himself washed the disciples' feet even at the very night before taking the cross.
He asked his disciples to live a life of service by washing one another's feet.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (JN 13:14, 15)
Jesus says, “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves” ( LK 22:27).
If we want to meet Jesus and serve him, we must find him who is serving the needy.
Dear brothers and sisters, the most precious thing we can pursue in this life is not of wealth or of money or of success.
The most value that we should go after in this life is to imitate the real life of Jesus that loves and serves those who are suffering in the low place.
As a matter of fact, what do we ultimately expect from in this life? Isn’t it that we learn the life of Jesus Christ at best until we take the final breath here? What else is there other than that?
Jesus lived a life of service at his best until his last moment here. So we should try out the same life of his in this world and go to see him in the next.
Let us remember: The life of servanthood in love is not an option for Christians to choose. If we are true followers of Jesus Christ, it is an essential element that we must practice over and over. For developing our roots deep down in Jesus Christ, the life of servanthood in love must follow.
When parents have children, they want their offspring to grow healthy. Likewise, after adopting us as his own children through Jesus Christ, what God wants is to see the progress of our spiritual maturity.
How then can we mature spiritually every day? In other words, how can we make the roots of our faith stretched out toward God and to many others day by day? It is only possible by trying to imitate the life example of Jesus Christ and live out a life of service.
A servanthood life in love is the best fruit that a man with a healthy root system can ever bear.
Our faith must be shared with our neighbors and the world. By visiting the lowest place, we should serve those who are there. We serve them as if we serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
While listening to this message, someone may think like this: “Where on earth is the one who lives like Jesus Christ in these days? Who is serving others just as Jesus did? If trying to live in such a foolish way of life, he will eventually go to bankruptcy.”
But is that really so? Is it so foolish to live in accordance with the teachings of the Bible?
Living such a life is never foolish. Rather, it is the maturity found from a truly great being who knows the beauty of life.
In MT 25:41-46, the king called those who stand on the left as “cursed ones” and commands them “Depart from me, (and go) into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (vs 41).
It is a very scary word. It sounds like too harsh on them. “You are cursed.” “Depart from me, (and go) into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Why then did Jesus speak so hard to those on the left? In other words, what crimes did they commit?
What does the Bible say about their evil behaviors?
For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. (vss 42, 42)
It is because they did not give the king food and drink, did not receive him, did not clothe him, and did not visit him when he was in need.
But the problem is when the king was actually hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and imprisoned.
If those on the left saw their king in difficulty, they wouldn’t mind helping him by all means.
Apparently, as they saw the king, he has never driven into such a difficult life. Never and ever.
Therefore, with a sad feeling, those on the left respond to the king: “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?” (vs 44)
So who is lying between the king and those on the left? Who?
The truth is this. Neither is lying. Both are telling truth.
If those on the left are speaking truth, why do they hear from the king such a harsh word? Is not the king treating them unmanned?
At this point, we must carefully listen to the king's reply to those on the left side: “'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (vs 45).
Why did they hear the scolding from the king? That's right. It is because they did not give food when one of the least was hungry, did not give water when he was thirsty, did not receive when he was a stranger, did not provide clothes to wear when he was naked, and did not take care when he was sick and jailed.
Brothers and sisters, we should remember this: If we are not taking care of those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick and imprisoned, it means we are not taking care of their king. In other words, we are not taking care of Jesus who is their king. For Jesus is among them. For he is one of them.
We are delighted to send mission funds to distant lands. But somehow we get stingy with helping the needy who are near us. Why? Isn’t it because they cause us troubles and make our streets dirty? Why?
The following lyrics are contained in one of the hymns from the Korean Hymnal (#263):
If you cannot cross the ocean, and the heathen lands explore, you can find the needy nearer. You can help those at your door.
Nowadays, there are more and more people in our church involved in serving the needy such as offering to the Salvation Army Charity and making hats for cancer patients. (PPT)
I believe it is a good practice of sharing faith with the needy. I am convinced that those hats are a gift of love for the children and adults who are struggling with a desperate sickness, cancer. I hope that more and more will get involved in this kind of good deed.
Let us remember that the healthy root development of faith can be possible through a life of servanthood in love to the needy around. Amen?

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