“The People in the Church Will Go to Hell, According to Jesus”
On the day of judgment, Jesus the ultimate Judge-King will send a lot of people in the Church to hell because they did not give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger/the immigrant/the sojourner/the migrant, clothed the naked, visited the incarcerated and the sick (Matt. 25:41-43, 46). In other words, the people in the Church believed they were zealously doing the work of Jesus by politicizing and monopolizing the Gospel and congruently by neglecting the existential concerns and toxic living conditions of the social groups identified in verses 41-43.
This “hell-bound church group,” according to Jesus, (1) has turned away from practicing kindness and compassion (“hospitality”); (2) has been silent in effecting (holistic) justice in society; (3) and correspondingly has not actively fostering Gospel-centered works of righteousness that validate their commitment to Jesus and his central teachings.
On the day of judgment, in announcing his final verdict, the supreme Judge-King of all people and nations uses some key terms and characteristics to designate both the practical deeds and lifestyle of the people in the Church. Jesus called them the “cursed” (contrary to those who are called “blessed”) (v.41), “goats” (a deplorable identity and the enemy of the “sheep”) (v. 31), and the people who have worked their way up successfully to be on “the left side of the King” (an unfortunate location and setting), not on the right side of the King (v.33) (the favorable location and position, according to Jesus).
In conclusion, by inference, those individuals in the Church were just a “a net of despicable Christians” and not a “basket of faithful pragmatic followers” of the Jesus’ Way, the Ethic of Love. Second, those “Church people” believed that they could “just preach the Gospel” and undermine the deeds of the Gospel. Third, the consequence of their earthly choice earned them “eternal punishment” in the labyrinth of darkness (verses 41, 46). Fourth, they neglected the fundamental practices of the true and biblical “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). Finally, they are rejected by the Judge-King because of the sin of inhospitality; the sinner’s prayer did not save them on the day of their verdict nor from the wrath of the Judge on the judgment day.
***This is the summary of the sermon I preached at Jesus Center this morning: Sunday, June 30, 2019.