Testing for Hardened Hearts

To Love is to Live. To Live is to Love .

Read *Matt 25:31-40*

Jesus is King

King of Kings & Lord of Lords.

Jesus brought hope to a people who were defeated. He brought love into a world which thrived on hate. There is no other like him.

When He ascended to the Father He left a desperate world with His peace which passes all understanding. He followed the will of God, even when it meant that radical love would lead him to the cross. He dined with sinners, He healed the sick, He fed the thousands. He extended divine forgiveness before repentance was offered. Jesus embraced the ways of the Kingdom of God, where the fruit of his authentic faith gave us the prayer: Thy kingdom come thy will be done.

Jesus is King. Of my life. Of your life.

He is coming again in Glory and His angels will surround him.

He will look into your and my life, and knowing us intimately,

He very presence will reveal authentic faith.

The parables we have been following over the past weeks in the gospel of Matthew have emphasised that what we do and say have consequences. ‘Be prepared’: the parable of the ten virgins; You ARE the salt and the light; and Ten Talents: the multiplying the currency of Love in the Kingdom of God. In today’s scripture Jesus tells us the Good News we can find the image of God in those around us. That as we look, truly look, past the shallow façade of self-protective pretence, or the vulnerable look of despair, we will see Jesus. And as we encounter the Shepherd King, the fruits of our Spiritual nature will pour out like rivers to nourish the dry and dusty world.

Spiritual wellness can be compromised the same way our physical bodies can become diseased. We are what we eat. Too much fatty red meat can lead to high cholesterol, sugar to type two diabetes, smoking to lung cancer. All unseen medical conditions which left unchecked can lead to death. The passage today can read like a spiritual wellness check. A routine check-up to uncover unseen aggressive spiritual cancers which can overwhelm our bodies and destroy our souls. The wellness check entails digging past our airbrushed Facebook identity to uncover the diagnostic image of our Spiritual health.

Test one: Have we seen the hungry, thirsty, the stranger and the prisoner?

Do we have eyes to see and ears to hear?

Test two: How have we responded?

Have we fed the hungry, given water and clothes and showed compassion on the stranger and prisoner?

These questions can function like an Ultrasound or a spiritual blood test to determine if the signs of antagonism & hardened hearts are growing like a cancer in our lives.

Why do we do these tests for physical or Spiritual wellness? We test so that we can intervene if there is a threat to our lives. And the results of who we actively Love and how we spend our time is indicative of our spiritual health. Untreated unhealthy living has consequences for our lives now and in the long term. Our actions have consequences, and although the Good News is that there are ways to diagnose a healthy Spiritual life, the difficult news is that the cancerous silent killer of apathy and hatred is rampant in society, both inside and outside the church.

There is more Good News.

For those of us who obsess about what is spiritual healthy living, Jesus tells us that we naturally fall into healthy spiritual living when we become less and Christ becomes more. When Jesus is enthroned as King of all aspects of our lives; we will organically express Love in all we say and do.

The is profound truth in these words which we perhaps take for granted.

1. That God is here, in the messiness, in the vulnerability, in the poverty of our lives. God is not distant and otherworldly. God is not waiting for Judgement day to determine who will spend time in heaven singing with the angels. No. Right here, right now, in all the uncertainties and in all the despair, God is among us. God is as close as your neighbour.

2. That the essence of our faith can be refined to this statement: *“Whatever you do to the least of these you do to me” Matt 25:40*. Church dogma and ecclesiastical conflict can be resolved through the criteria of ‘seeing’ your neighbour in need, and responding in embodied Love.

3. God wants us. God isn’t trying to recreate a new world order based on righteousness and Justice. God is gathering the sheep, warning the sheep, encouraging the sheep to receive and accept the gift of salvation. As the blessings flow and the inheritance given, God is drawing us towards the heartbeat of Love, enfolding us with Love in order to save us. God saves us from ourselves and our selfish obsessive behaviour, focussing our attentions on others s that we can embrace God’s radical and beautiful truth:

To Love is to Live. To Live is to Love .

I hate going to the doctor. I am frightened of the diagnosis. Or worse, I am frightened that I will refuse to follow the doctor’s orders to improve my health.

Stop smoking & drinking, do more exercise is easier said than done.

See Jesus in others and respond with Jesus Love is easier said than done.

Come with me to the Spiritual doctor’s office today. Do the check-up.

We can adopt healthy Spiritual living together.

This Parable’s diagnostic test is like the warning sign on cigarette packets.

A warning to adopt healthy habits for a healthy life.

A warning that if no change is forthcoming, then death will be waiting.

Let’s test our arteries, our eyes and our ears: Do we have eyes to see and ears to hear? Do we see Christ in others? Do we compassionately respond to your neighbour in need?

Jesus our King wants to see us live life in all it’s abundance. To adopt habits which give life, and drop habits which bring death.

*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.*

May salvation be the Good News we discover when we least expect it. May we meet Jesus, and embrace and be embraced by Love.

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