As part of All We Can’s Lent devotional series, Revd Dr Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference, reflects on what the Bible teaches us about poverty in Matthew 25:31-40.
The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats
It’s a worry, not knowing if you’re a sheep or a goat. Truth to tell, I’m seriously worried I’m a goat, all those homeless people I’ve walked past, all those charity Christmas card offers I’ve put in the bin. When the Son of Man comes in his glory I fear the burning fiery goat pit is my destiny.
[pullquote align=”right”]Jesus is warning us that we are called to notice how we are living now, because the work of God is now, amongst us and amongst the very poorest ‘the little ones’.[/pullquote]
But then, there’s some sheepish self-righteousness that flocks in, I have kept the charity standing order going, I did preach a sermon mentioning All We Can and the collection was bigger than usual. I’m sort of hopeful there might be a hybrid between a sheep and a goat – a geep or a shoat?
I think this passage is less about God’s end of term sorting hat and more about waking up to the critical imperative of now. Jesus is warning us that we are called to notice how we are living now, because the work of God is now, amongst us and amongst the very poorest ‘the little ones’. Because Jesus isn’t just ‘on the side of the poor’ but he is the poor. Jesus is the little one, the unnoticed one, the prisoner, the naked, the homeless and the hungry. They are not the object, they are Christ.
It was a hermit who lived a solitary and simple life that pointed out to me the ambiguity of the phrase, ‘Make poverty history’. He said, it’s not that we want so much to make poverty a thing of the past, but rather that we want to understand history from the perspective of the poor. Because of Jesus, God is not simply alongside the poor, God is the poor. The story of poverty, struggle, nakedness, imprisonment and hunger is God’s story. It’s that which judges us, it’s that which sorts sheep from goats.
Today, where can you see Jesus? In the faces of the homeless, the tired, the frightened, the ones seeking refuge?
As you read this passage, pray that God would stir your heart into action.