How much does a dollar cost, anyway?

social-justice

I got convicted this past week. Listening to a podcast I listen to quite often, from Pastor Brian Zahnd, I heard a sermon this week from his “Finding God on your IPod” series he apparently does every August. The last sermon in this series for 2016 was preached based on the hip-hop song “How much a dollar cost?”, by Kendrick Lamar. The song is based on a meeting Kendrick Lamar had with a panhandler at a gas station in Johannesburg, South Africa. Lamar, who is a Christian, tells the story of how he himself was convicted by this panhandler, and how he came to be uneasy with his own dismissiveness towards the man. In the song there is much interaction between Lamar and the man, the panhandler references Exodus 14 and all God needs is a humble man. There is a lot of back and forth (it is a rap song….there are a lot of lyrics), and a very surprising amount of bible theology. And yes, he certainly asks the question of just “How much a dollar cost?”
Pastor Zahnd preached his sermon based on this song, and he preached the sermon tied to the parables of the sheep and the goats, as well as the rich man and Lazarus. And now I’m asking myself, just how much does a dollar cost?
Today I’m just going to look at the sheep and the goats, and how this parable taught by Jesus has me so convicted today.

sheep-and-goats
But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Judgment Day. It will come for all of us. The disciples listening would have easily understood this analogy, goats were kept under cover at night in order to keep warm, sheep preferred to be outdoors. So the sheep and rage goats would be separated at the end of each day. The day will come when each of us will come before Christ and account for our lives, when we will be separated according to the law of Christ.

inherit-the-kingdom
He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his 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 creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ The sheep to the right and the goats to the left. The right hand, the place of honor, the place James and John wanted to be seated, because over and over again, as in psalm 110 – “The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.”” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭110:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬ – this is recognized as the place of honor. The left – if the right is the hand of honor, then the left is the place of dishonor.

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 creation of the world. He’s preparing His Kingdom as we speak, as you read this. He’s been preparing it, he continues to prepare. It is to be inherited by those on his right hand, blessed by the Father. How do you get to His right hand, the place of honor to inherit His kingdom. By following the law of Christ. By feeding Him when He’s hungry, giving Him a drink when He’s thirsty, inviting Him into His home when He’s a stranger, clothing Him when he’s naked, caring for Him when He’s sick, and visiting Him in prison. It sounds like He’s talking about works here, but it’s really faith. If you have faith in Christ, and He gets inside your heart, if He truly gets inside your heart, you will begin to produce “good fruit”. “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew‬ ‭7:17-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬. It’s not about the outward actions, doing good works to check a box and say we did them, it’s about being changed on the inside so that the tree we’ve become looks like Christ. If we are changed by Christ so that we produce good fruit, we are like the sheep on His right hand of honor.

i-was-hungry
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ It does sound strange to think of meeting Jesus and not feeding Him, clothing Him caring for Him, visiting Him. Even a non believer, if face to face with the savior if the world, would be sparked into action. So when do we have the chance to do these things to Jesus? I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me! Ouch. Remember “But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.‭‭” Matthew‬ ‭19:30‬ ‭NLT.

The people we run around serving now, thinking we are getting ahead, may seem most important now, but will be least important then. On judgement day, those things we did for all those who could give us nothing in return, all those who “don’t deserve” what we are doing for them, those things will be most important.

i-was-in-prison
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Now this is a big problem. We’ve got all kinds of protocols, all kinds of theology, that we’ve come up with which tell us we can get down on our knees, say a prayer and publicly proclaim the name of the Lord, and we will be saved. And we have more systems worked out by which, once you are saved, you are always saved. Just say that Romans 10:9 prayer, check that box, you just punched your ticket to heaven.

i-was-thirsty

But notice one thing here – nowhere in this story does it say the goats will be condemned because they believed wrongly.  We should actually assume they believed all the right things.  We should assume they believed in Jesus as Lord and savior.  They are not condemned for wrong beliefs, but for wrong actions.  They knew all the answers.  These guys were missing heaven by about 18 inches, or whatever the distance is between the brain and the heart.

So, we had better pay attention to what Jesus has to say. At least, I had better listen. He’s the one who was born of a virgin, suffered under Pilate, was crucified and died, and then was raised from the dead on the third day, right??

i-was-a-stranger

All those commands, assignments he’s giving us here? For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I drive by people every day, walk by people every day, who are hungry. And no, almost always, I don’t feed them. I don’t look at them. I don’t make eye contact. I might just pretend they’re not there. I might even avoid certain intersections, drive out of my way, just so I won’t see them. So I won’t see Him. Because I need to hang onto my dollars. Because for all the progress I think I’ve made, I still ain’t right.

I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I will sometimes give them (Him) water out of the extra in my cooler. So I can feel good about myself. Most of the time, I just ignore Him. I need my dollar,

 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. Seriously? I won’t even invite my mother into my home. I still ain’t right.

 I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I need all my clothes!! Clothes are expensive!! I need my dollars. I still ain’t right.

I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.  I might take care of my kids when they are sick, but everybody else, that ain’t my responsibility! As for going into prison – really? I like to pat myself on the back, I will help people when they come out. Work with them, reach out. But to visit in prison, I just am not ready to do that. I still ain’t right.
And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life. I will come to my judgment day. I will be asked something like “What did you do with my son, who I sent for you?”  What will my answer be??  “He was hungry, and I didn’t feed Him. He was thirsty, I didn’t give Him a drink. He was a stranger, I would not invite Him into my home. He was naked, and I wasn’t getting close enough to give Him clothes. He was sick, I wouldn’t care for Him. He was in prison, and I would not visit Him.”

I’ve said the sinners prayer, and been “saved”. But the same Apostle who wrote Roman 10:9 also wrote Philippians 2:12 – “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” Philippians‬ ‭2:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬. Work out your salvation. It is a process. You can be saved today and in heaven tomorrow. You can also be saved today, and 20 years from now still be the exact same person you are right now. If that is you, you have a problem.

dollar

If you are truly saved, Christ will be working in you. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬. If He is truly in you, you will be changed. He loves you just as you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.
So, How much does a dollar cost. Kendrick Lamar met Jesus at a gas station in South Africa. I meet him 10 times a day in Southeast Washington, DC. As Lamar finishes his song – “How much a dollar cost? The price of having a spot in heaven – embrace your loss – I am God.”
““But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his 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 creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:31-46‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/mat.25.31-46.nlt

John Lewis

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