If you, like me, were raised in the RCC, and even more so, in liberal circles, you might have heard the statement that all people on earth have eventually become our brothers and sisters because of Christ. But is that true? Also, are all Christians automatically His sheep who will find themselves on that very day of the Final Judgment on Christ’s right side? Let’s read the whole story in its context.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 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. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 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. 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, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 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.’ “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. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 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.’ 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?’ 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.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Mt 25:31-46 ESV)
You might have perceived a slight difference as to how Jesus addressed the sheep on His right and the goats on His left side [by the way, ‘right’ stands for ‘spiritual’, ‘left’ for ‘carnal’]. In verse 40 Jesus explained why the sheep were blessed to inherit the kingdom of God: they met His needs by serving their brethren (“as you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me”), whereas in verse 45 as Jesus spoke to the goats the words “my brothers” are missing completely because Jesus only said, “…as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” So, what does this mean? Is it true that there cannot be a (spiritual) relationship, aka fellowship, between a carnally minded believer and a spiritual believer who has the mind of Christ? We read in Romans chapter 8,
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Rom 8:5-11 ESV)
We can clearly see the consequences of what we just read as these two conflicting mindsets either lead to eternal life or eternal death in the Final Judgement. Jesus’ brothers and sisters are only those who “have the Spirit of Christ” indwelling them (Rom 8:9). Without His Spirit, there is no life and no righteousness, either. Without Christ’s life in us, we are spiritually dead, still, since the Old Adam nature is neither able nor interested to seek the things of God. Or in other words,
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor 2:14 ESV)
From hence, no spiritual relationship, no fellowship, and no brotherhood between these sheep and goats or between wheat and weeds. In order to substantiate the allegation that not all people on earth are our brothers and sisters, and not all who call themselves Christians, either, I was reminded of this Scripture Michael Clark lately pointed out to me where Jesus clarified, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mt 12:50 ESV)
How much Jesus identified with His spiritual family became pretty clear to Saul as he had persecuted many Christians in his self-righteous fury. One day Jesus all of a sudden appeared to him and asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting ME?” (Acts 26:14 ESV, emphasis added)
Brothers and sisters, we can say that God so loved the world that He gave His only son that the world should be saved by faith in Christ, but we must not believe that we ought to care for everyone who is in need in this world and who asks for our help. I remember that I had big problems in the past to say, “No” when I was confronted with beggars in the street or with begging letters from caritative aid agencies. I always felt guilty of sorts about being able to give and not wanting to. And I even thought that it was God who convicted me there! One day as I was on errands in the pedestrian mall in Fürth here, I was wondering about the increasing number of beggars there. Week after week there seemed to be more and more of them. And not only this, these were truly very miserable people, most of them in wheelchairs, openly showing their loss of limbs or deep scars from… I don’t know what. It was really a heartbreaking sight! As I approached a young man with only one leg who was sitting in a wheelchair, I decided to give him a bit more money than he might have expected since I felt so bad in my heart about his physical condition. Well, his reaction was strange. No reaction at all! A complete lack of feelings as it seemed to me. Nothing. Only a whispered, “Thanks” without looking at me. Hmm…
As I had left him and went into the direction where I had come from, I was still wondering what had been wrong there. I felt ‘nudged’ to turn around and look back. What I observed made me wonder even more. There would be another not so young man whom I had perceived before, too, although without giving him a closer look for he had been standing a few meters away from the one in the wheelchair. He was dressed better and obviously healthy, too. It seemed to me that the physically disabled man had given the money to this guy. A few days afterwards I would hear for the first time about a mafia-like group of foreigners from Eastern Europe who gather disabled people, convey them by bus into another country, and there into a bigger city where they attract richer people’s attention. Basically, these poor people are treated like prostitutes since they simply get a fraction of the amount of that money they passed on to their overseers.
I was so shocked to hear about this wickedness that I asked God what to do in such cases. Basically, nowadays I do not give anything to anyone any longer unless God nudges me (which very rarely happens). I recall that I passed a woman a few years ago who was sitting on the ground before a bank. A few seconds later God said to me, “Go back!” I obeyed and went back. I told her to hide the money elsewhere in her clothing, but she did as if she had not heard me. As I continued my walk, I was suddenly attacked by a German passenger who began to blame this beggar and me because of having helped her. This older woman got pretty nasty and so I prayed again about what to do. “Ignore her,” was God’s advice and so I did.
God’s leading is truly unpredictable. It seems to me that with Him we cannot have principles any longer. Our only ‘principle’ should be, “I will follow Him, follow him wherever he may go. There isn’t an ocean too deep, A mountain so high it can keep me away. I must follow HIM …” 😉