Every day, from the moment I wake up in the morning until I fall asleep at night, is a judgement on me – I continually make little or big choices throughout my day. Each choice makes me a better or a worse person. Each choice makes me more human or less human. Each choice contributes to the sort of a person I turn out to be.
Todays Gospel reading is not about what will happen at the end of the world. It is not about God dividing the ‘good’ from the ‘bad.’ It is not even about God passing judgement.
It is a very graphic story about what living as a human being, created in God’s image and likeness is, or is not.
There is no talk about religious affiliation or theological understanding.
These things; religion, scripture, theology, motivate me, encourage me, help me, constantly remind me so that I may make the right choices throughout my day.
What are these choices?
“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me.” Or. “I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome.”
This is my judgement. My daily choices are my judge and my judgement.
Not when I die. Not at the end of the world.
Every hour of every day is my judgement.
Every choice I make or don’t make is my judgement.
The personal choices I make every day are what brings peace and joy to my life or come back to haunt and trouble me in the future.
When someone stands to give the eulogy at my funeral what would I like to hear said and what would I not like to hear said?
Now, today, is the time to do the sort of thing I would like to hear said.
The sort of thing for which I would like to be remembered.
‘Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will fight for you.’
‘Above all pray to the Most High that he may direct your way in truth.’
‘Most important of all, pray to God to set your feet in the path of truth.
‘God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.’
(I tried to count the number of times ‘truth’ is mentioned in the Bible. When I got to 170 I gave up counting.)
It is well known that a confession made under duress or torture is not credible.
Therefore it you believe that if you do not give food to the hungry, if you do not give clothes to the naked, if you do not welcome the stranger etc. you will be condemned to ‘the eternal fire,’ then what credence can be given to the sincerity, the truth, of whatever you do.
It is a sham and the god who requires me to act under such coercion and threat is also a sham.
So whatever the source of and the meaning of the threats we find here and there in the Bible, still remains to be worked out in the future, but we can be sure that their source cannot be the God who desires worship in spirit and in truth.