Scripture reading: Matthew 25:31-46. Text: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.” 2 Corinthians 5:10.
Last week we dealt with this question: “How can clergy make the worship service and the sermon more attractive so people will come to church?” One of the recommendations was to make the church and religion more COMFORTABLE. However, is this the whole truth? The physician usually touches us where it hurts with the hope to help and heal. Following the same line of thinking, may a pastor preach about topics that are not popular or that may even be considered impolite? There are at least three approaches to answer this question: should a pastor only preach what the people like to hear, what the Bible says, and what the pastor dares to mention.
PLEASE SERIOUSLY STUDY BOTH OUR SCRIPTURE READING AND OUR TEXT.
From our Scripture reading I wish to call your attention to how the condemned excused themselves: “‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’” Matthew 25:44. “Then he (the Lord) will answer them, saying ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’” Matthew 25:45. To underline the seriousness of the divine judgment, please see what Apostle Paul had to say: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ . . .” Please read our text.
DEATH IS NOT ONLY AN UNPOPULAR TOPIC BUT WE MAY ALSO HAVE A DISTORTED CONCEPT OF IT.
Regardless of how untactful and painful it is, we should be reminded as well as should be aware of the serious, real, and consequential nature of death. Death is personal, unavoidable, and physically final but spiritually death is a transformation (though atheists do think differently). Death is a done deal, irreversible, and knows no exception. What will you think and how will you feel and what will be in your mind when one of your beloved family members or a dear friend will be in the coffin?
Using the “modern times” we live in, what excuses would a poor soul give to the heavenly JUDGE when he or she is asked about his or her earthly life and why he or she did not take seriously his or her final hour?
- TV shows and video games harmfully influenced our minds when we were children;
death was not real. After the show or game, the people killed came back to life.
- When I attended church the pastor(s) did not speak about death and the last
judgment. We were told that our God is loving, forgiving, and compassionate. It
seemed that some of the clergy did not take seriously the reality of death.
- My parents had different opinions about God, church, death, salvation, and
condemnation. My mother was a believer; she prayed and attended church
occasionally. However my father was agnostic (uncertain about the existence of God)
and he just ignored the spiritual issues.
- In the high school it was forbidden to pray or talk about God.
- In the university the professors who taught us – and they were considered talented
scientists and scholars and best in their fields – did not take God and religion
seriously. For them faith and knowledge were incompatible.
- We were told that it was not nice to discuss death and the afterlife with others.
A few questions: what will be your excuse before the heavenly judge when the time comes? Whom will you blame that you were not told about the seriousness of death? When is the best time for you to mention to your child the end of life? Are the churches and pastors negligent for ignoring the teachings of the Bible about death? Does the certainty of the life-after-death have any bearing on our thinking and behavior? If the churches were to more intensively emphasize salvation and condemnation, would it decrease crime? Is death an enemy or a friend-or do you really know? Let us keep in mind this short and important verse from the Bible: “And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment.” Hebrews 9:27.
The Rev. Alexander Jalso is a retired United Presbyterian minister living in Ligonier.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.