Sunday, April 27, 2008

On thinking about goats!

The supply of over 100 sponsored goats for Zimbabwe as a result of auctioning a prototype Just Action Conference Badge got me thinking about goats.

The parable Jesus quoted from Egyptian antiquity and recorded in Matthew 25.31 divides people and nations between being sheep and goats. The simple criteria was whether compassionate and practical response had been shown to the stranger in need.

Who can say that we have always fed the hungry person, clothed the naked person, or visited the person in prison. No, we are all goats some of the time. In like manner using the imagery from another parable we all have wheat as well as tares (weeds) in us.

Unfortunately all too often I must confess to being a silly goat so I think Jesus was not so much telling this parable to illustrate what will happen at some future judgment but about the contradictions that exist in human attitudes and behaviour.

I believe Jesus was trying to underline the importance of the Christian life lived out in practice. Heaven and hell in this context are symbols of our inner realities and states of being, not physical places of reward and punishment. Judgment is what we do to ourselves by the choices we make.

I believe there is hope for this old goat yet provided I exercise my choice to follow in the way of Jesus with compassionate and generous response to those in need.

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