/ Nathan Eshelman

Qualifying our Ever-So-Merciful Consciences

The church is called to be a merciful people. Jesus has called us to extend mercy as we preach the gospel through the nations.  Sometimes, it seems, at least here in the U.S.A.,  as though we go out of our way to footnote, qualify, and  give restrictions on how that mercy is to be distributed. We often err on the side of doing nothing rather than on the side of doing too much. If I am ever in a position where I need mercy extended to me...  I hope that the church errs on the side of grace. Maybe loving our neighbor would cause us to do likewise.

Or maybe not.... we should check the footnotes to be sure. 

Jesus said... "For I was hungry(1) and you gave me food(2), I was thirsty(3) and you gave me drink(4), I was a stranger and you welcomed me(5), I was naked(6) and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me(7), I was in prison and you came to me(8).’

_ 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(9), you did it to me._’"  (Matthew 25:35-40)

1 This must only include people who are working hard to provide for themselves, surely Jesus does not mean people that are hungry. Maybe people that are hungry after all the bills have been paid (including cable, internet, and iPhone, of course). We all have to work hard to put food on our tables.

2 If I can’t afford to give GMO free and organic products then I won’t be able to participate because of my conscience. We need to provide quality food to the poor, and since I am middle class and have five children of my own, I am afraid this does not apply to me. I bet there's an organization that does this kind of thing.

3 Again, what are they doing to provide for themselves? This is America, the land of opportunity. I know many ‘self-made’ people. They just need to look for opportunities.

4 Surely Jesus must mean purified spring water here or maybe raw milk. That’s too expensive to just give away to people. You have to consider my conscience in this as well. My kids don’t even drink pop because of the high fructose corn syrup.

5 That sounds dangerous. Who would bring a stranger into his or her home? It’s hard enough trusting people that are in my church, why would Jesus want me to put my family's safety and possessions on the line? I am sure there’s places they can go if they need fellowship or friendship. Strangers? Really?

6 Nudity is immodest. Why would I put myself in the position where I would come into contact with nude people? That may cause sexual temptation. And if they need clothes, there’s a Goodwill or Salvation Army that can provide those resources.

7 The government provides healthcare if people need it and emergency rooms are not allowed to refuse service. Plus, if they are contagious, I don’t have too many vacation days and I can’t use them being around sick people! That would put my family at risk, I am sure. I am too busy to visit sick people. There’s in-home agencies that do that kind of thing today.

8 If they are a real Christian what are they doing in prison? I doubt they are really saved, therefore this does not apply to me. I am sure there are prison chaplains that can work with them. They are probably just con artists anyway, you know, trying to take advantage of us real Christians.

9 This is not defined. Jesus must mean that they are communicant members of a solid, confessional, conservative, reformed or presbyterian denomination. Who is my brother? Surely he subscribes to the Three Forms or the Westminster Standards (original, of course, not the American revisions).

Nathan Eshelman

Nathan Eshelman

Pastor in Orlando, studied at Puritan Reformed Theological & Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminaries. One of the chambermen on the podcast The Jerusalem Chamber. Married to Lydia with 5 children.

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