Jesus once story about how on Judgement Day God will sort us all out, like a shepherd separating sheep from goats. John Doe has never spent a day upon a farm. He wonders what is so bad about goats. He gets the bit about how people, who are only nice when they know that there’s something in it for them, deserve Hell. But, what’s this talk about all of humankind being brought before God (Jesus) and given only one chance to make it into heaven? Hey, even Babe Ruth got three strikes before he had to go to the dugout.
Judgement is really not about punishing people for their sins. Its about providing justice for those who are oppressed. A day is coming when nations who go to war with their neighbor for sport will be made to pay for their violence. A day is coming when the masters of slaves will answer for their ownership of other human beings. There will come a day when the racist, the abuser, the usurper, and those who cheat the poor out of their daily bread, will find themselves in torment. Those who have been victims of wicked people will have their day in God’s court.
Jesus’ point is that the judge of all the earth won’t have a hard time distinguishing who is the victim and who is the accused in his courtroom. The two tables are separated by a courtroom aisle, the way shepherds used to separate their sheep from their goats. On that day the distinction between good and evil will be easily made. If you don’t know animals, think about any two other groups that can be easily sorted. The heaven bound and the hellions are as different as eggs and potatoes, Porsches and Yugos, diamonds and coal.
John Doe, like most of us, views life as a series of good and bad decisions. You get into heaven if the you put all these choices on a scale and the balance tips, ever so slightly towards good. No! Or, you squeeze in if you happen to be doing something good when you die; like texting ‘I love you’ to your kids. Don’t count on it. Or, you get in if you are a member of the right church and believe the right things. Nice try.
I read Jesus this way. The direction of our hearts, is formed early in life. If our nature is to compete, be cruel, and take advantage of others, then be aware that Judgement Day is coming. The time is short for you to repent. Come to Jesus and he will give you a new heart, as well as, accept you into his kingdom. If you have a good heart, or if you aren’t sure, then come to Jesus and he will give you the Holy Spirit and teach you how to live a compassionate life.
If you, or the John Doe you live with, are still having a problem knowing where you will stand in the Judgement, then ask yourself these questions:
1 Are you spiritually awake? Yes or No (don’t say maybe)
2 Are you willing to risk everything in order to do the one thing God has called (or made) you to do?
3 Do you live compassionately in this world, disregarding any payback or reward for being nice?