If only I had been there

Farmville Enterprise December 28, 2016

Do you ever look back on certain events in history and think, “I would have stood firmly with the good guys and spoken out against injustice?” Have you watched movies that drove you to anger towards the villains and made you swear you would have stepped in to give them a taste of their own medicine? Perhaps you would have worked with William Wilberforce to end the slave trade or intervened, as Peter did, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus. Maybe you would have helped hide Jewish children or families during the Holocaust or found much-needed overnight lodging for a pregnant woman and her husband who were on their way to register in Bethlehem. Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, wrote the following: “Let everyone examine himself in the light of the Gospel and see how far he is from Christ, and what is the character of his faith and love. There are many who are enkindled with dreamy devotion, and when they hear of the poverty of Christ, they are almost angry with the citizens of Bethlehem. They denounce their blindness and ingratitude, and think, if they had been there, they would have shown the Lord and his mother a more kindly service, and would not have permitted them to be treated so miserably. But they do not look by their side to see how many of their fellow humans need their help, and which they ignore in their misery. Who is there upon earth that has no poor, miserable, sick, erring ones around him? Why does he not exercise his love to those? Why does he not do to them as Christ has done to him?”

We will never know how we would have helped in troubling situations before our time, but we have opportunities almost daily to deal with adversity around us. How we react says a lot about what we believe. Jesus told this story of the sheep and the goats. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40)


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