Treating the other sheep with respect.

So. I had a message for the service at the hospital Sunday. Things got busy. I didn’t have a chance to share it there. But we would have read from Ezekiel 34 about sheep beating up on each other.

“You, sheep, when you get to the field, you push the weak ones out of the way so you can eat first. You make the water muddy for those who follow you.”

And then we read from Matthew 25, the story about sheep and goats.

In that story, Jesus is saying is that people who aren’t following his heart and mind won’t end up spending the rest of time with him. And this doesn’t seem to be so much about the in group and the out group. This seems to be talking to the in group, the people who tried to look like they were following God.

We are aware these days that people are calling each other names. We are aware that people who say they belong to Jesus are being horrible to each other. The words from Ezekiel that warn us against mistreating our brothers and sisters is revealing to us right now.

Jesus said clearly that if we love him we will obey his command. And his command is to love each other. Across political parties, across national borders, across generations, across denominations. If we love Jesus, we are clearly called to love each other.

And that love looks like caring for those who are sick and hungry and in prison and dying. Right? Based on what Jesus said?

It looks like checking in. It looks, may I say it, like wearing masks to protect people we love from the illnesses we may be carrying. It looks like not mocking. It looks like respect. It looks like the opposite of many examples that you and I see.

Often, people who are following Jesus think they are supposed to be kind to everyone. That is an important calling.

But Jesus is concerned with how people who say they love Jesus treat each other. There will be judgment based on how we treat each other. Because his reputation for love often rests on our reputation for love. And Jesus doesn’t leave a “But what about.”

I heard this week of a nurse in England who cared for people in difficult situations. She cautioned the person who was with her, “We don’t have time to judge them, because if we are judging them, we won’t have time to love them.”

Amen.