And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Mathew 25:40
Today we have much confusion over the mission of the Church. This is one of the passages, which is often misquoted and misinterpreted by many to justify their holistic approach to the gospel. This is one of the verses many would quote to justify, why they strongly feel about the social justice and put strong emphasis on social transformation. This confusion has changed the gospel preaching ministry into so-called “Incarnational ministry“.
An Example of this confusion is found in The Lausanne Covenant.
It states, In the Church’s mission of sacrificial service evangelism is primary. World evangelization requires the whole Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. John R. W. Stott explains this statement: “I now see more clearly that not only the consequences of the commission but the actual commission itself must be understood to include social as well as evangelistic responsibilities” We therefore should share his (God’s) concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men from every kind of oppression. We express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive.
The key to understanding this passage lies in ἑνὶ τούτων τῶν ἀδελφῶν μου τῶν ἐλαχίστων, “…one of these brothers of Mine…”
- We must ask here a question, who are these brothers?
- Now we have to answer this question, is everyone on this earth His (Jesus) brother and sister?
There are three groups of people who could claim this verse to be talking about them in this passage. The brothers of Jesus who are related to him i.e. his immediate family members and also the Jews who are related to him by way of Jacob. But Jesus was referring to this third group of people. I would like to quote two verses from Mathew. These verses will make it more clear.
And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brothers! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. Mathew 12:49-50
Therefore we can easily conclude that the verse was referring to this group of people. And they are found within the body of Christ. These verses help us to understand the concern of Jesus for his own brothers and sisters- the Church.
Evangelism is reaching people outside the Church of Christ with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But at the same time our social concern should be within the framework of the Church of Christ- the brothers and sisters in Christ.
If this is the case, we must rethink our mission and do it without any confusion. If you do not want to miss your reward then show your concern to the brothers and sisters of Jesus.