The Sheep and the Goats on Sunday Morning [Studies in 1 Corinthians]

When the Son of Man comes in his glory he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance. For I was lonely and I felt like a foreigner but you made me feel welcome; I was confused and you cleared things up; I was beaten down by life and you lifted me up; I was anonymous and you called me by name.”

Are you a sheep or a goat?

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you lonely and feeling like a foreigner and made you feel welcome; or confused and we made things clear for you; or beaten down by life and lifted you up; or anonymous and we called you by name?”

The King will reply, “One Sunday I visited your church in disguise. I sat by myself, shy and without a friend, and you came over and talked with me and asked me about myself. I came without a Bible, and you shared yours with me and pointed out where we were reading. Your leaders spoke clearly so I could understand and showed me the words to the songs with a projector. I cried during the prayer time, and you put your hand on my shoulder and asked me what you could do to help. You asked my name and you remembered it when you saw me after the service, and you introduced me to your friends. That was my experience, but besides that, whenever you did such things for the least-attractive person to wander in, you did it for me.”

Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me. For I was lonely and I felt like a foreigner but you made me feel even more unwelcome; I was confused and you disdained to clear things up for me; I was beaten down and you didn’t lift me up; I was anonymous and you left me without a name.”

They too will answer, “Lord, when did we see you lonely and feeling like a foreigner and left you feeling unwelcome; or confused and disdained to clear things up; or beaten down by life and didn’t lift you up; or anonymous and left you without a name?”

The King will reply, “One Sunday I visited your church in disguise. I sat by myself, shy and lonely, and you never turned your head to look at me, but went on talking and laughing with your friends. I came without a Bible and you frowned at my ignorance. Your leaders spoke so fast and with the volume turned up so loudly I could hardly make out what they were saying. When we sang, everyone but me seemed to know the words, but I couldn’t identify them. I cried during prayer time, but you were jumping up and down and waving your arms and didn’t notice. A bunch of people grabbed the microphone and made weird noises, and everyone yelled and applauded and praised God, but it only frightened me and left me more confused. People interrupted each other and I could not figure out what was going on. You finally asked my name, but it was to see whether I would pledge to give 10% of my income to the church; when I said I was unemployed you scolded me for my lack of faith.”

“That was my experience, but besides that,” concluded the King, “whenever you forgot to do good things for any person to wander in, you were forgetting me.”

As Paul said:

There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. (1 Cor 14:10-11).

He was talking about the gift of tongues; it’s perfectly applicable for whenever we speak.

Related posts and a free full-length commentary:

Studies in 1 Corinthians by Gary Shogren

“The Sheep and the Goats on Sunday Morning,” by Gary Shogren, Ph. D., Professor of New Testament, Seminario ESEPA, San Jose, Costa Rica

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