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BaptistWay Bible Series for Dec. 21 (Non-Christmas): Jesus and hurting

I enjoy watching movies. I find amazing the fact that someone can take a series of still frames and make them appear to be in motion. Recently I watched a movie called Finding Neverland.  This movie is about J.M. Barrie and how he came to write one of the most beloved children’s stories of all time, Peter Pan

In the story, Barrie meets a group of three children in the park and befriends them. He also befriends their mother who is raising them on her own. Along the way, Barrie finds the inspiration for what would become Peter Pan. He also develops a bond with the family. At the end of the movie, the children’s mother passes away and Barrie takes the children in as his own.

The last sequence in the movie brings us to the point of this illustration. Barrie is sitting with the youngest child on a park bench directly after the funeral of the mother. During the conversation the young child asks the elder, “Why did this happen?” Barrie’s response is the most sensible in the situation and is the one humans in general say the most, “I do not know.”

Life really can be tumultuous. As humans, we are plagued by worries, physical pain and emotional duress. On the other hand, life can be marvelous. We have the great pleasure to witness and participate in great events that take place in our lives.

Obviously, we all prefer the latter. We much rather would experience the great times in life more than the stressful ones. The only problem is that conflicting and stressful times cannot be avoided in this life. So what do we do, especially as Christians?

In Matthew 25:31-46, we find Jesus completing a discourse of how the Kingdom of Heaven will be. The Scripture shows readers that when the Son of Man returns, he will come to separate the righteous and the unrighteous, or as the Scripture states, “the sheep from the goats.” Jesus also provides readers with a description of what a “sheep” does and what a “goat” does.

Jesus tells us that performing actions that tend to the needs of hurting people will richly reward the righteous. He says the righteous will feed the hungry, provide the thirsty with drink, welcome strangers, tend to the sick, clothe the naked and comfort those who have been imprisoned. In another manner of speaking, the righteous of the Earth who will inherit the kingdom of God will comfort all who are weary. The unrighteous will be the ones who ignore the cares and needs of others and in return, will be justly rewarded with the same treatment.

It sounds clear enough; however, many Christians ignore this call to be righteous. Many do what is easiest and stay within their boundaries of comfort. This does not mean that these kinds of people are inherently worse than others. It is simply easier to go home after work than to serve the homeless at a shelter or to visit the family of person who is in prison.

Many Christians are experts at helping others, especially if those people are in their respected congregations. This is an honorable and biblical act.
At the same time, when it comes to helping strangers in the outside world, it becomes increasingly difficult for these same Christians to be as generous. The homeless, hungry and impoverished in our country often are overlooked in light of children in Africa or fellow Christians in the underground church in China, especially in our own communities.

This is not to say that being concerned about the welfare of others aboard is inane, but we are more apt to help people we will never encounter over a person we can see, touch and smell.

Jesus states in Matthew 25:40: “I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me.” This is not exactly a call for comfort zones or sending cookies to third world countries. It is a call to all Christians who claim to be righteous to go beyond themselves and attend to the needs of the hurting with an emphasis on those who literally stumble onto our path.

In conclusion, we need each other and there are many tasks we can do to help one another. We can spend time with an elderly person, we can volunteer to visit the sick at a hospital, or even take a blanket to a homeless person to beat the winter cold. There will be time and time again when we encounter hardships and people who are facing them just as we are. We will cry, we will bleed, and we will suffer. That means all of us. If we can accomplish the feat of caring for one another, the “whys” of this world will no longer matter.

Questions to consider

• When was a time you were hurting and someone attended to you and your need for comfort?
• When was a time you attended to the needs of someone who was hurting?
• Who do you know that are hurting now? What will you do minister to them?
 
 
 
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