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By November 26, 2017 7 Comments

Proper 29
Reign of Christ Sunday
Matthew 25:31-46

by Justin Meyers

One of the beliefs that many Muslims and Christians share is that there will be a final judgement.

Many Muslims also believe, like Christians, that Jesus will play a pivotal role in this judgement. This passage in Matthew is one that I can imagine my Muslim friends agreeing with wholeheartedly.

Another belief we share is that our actions have consequences and that when we do acts of kindness and generosity, we might be entertaining angels, or even God, unaware.

Growing up in the Reformed tradition, I was raised to understand that orthodoxy was paramount. We needed to live right, yes, but more importantly we needed to believe the right things about God.

Living in Oman, I have experienced unparalleled orthopraxy, a desire to do what is right. In Oman, what people do is often more important than what they believe, even as what they believe is critical to their faith.

I’ve lost count of how many of my Muslim neighbors have offered me water, tea, coffee, and dates. I’ve been welcomed into stranger’s homes on more than a few occasions as I have walked the streets of Oman. I’ve seen my Muslim neighbors give a bottle of water to a man working in the hot sun cleaning cars and pay to have their already clean car washed again to give the man a chance to work. When driving with my Omani friends I’ve picked up more hitchhikers than I care to remember.

One aspect of this passage that I wrestle the most with is this, no where does the Son of Man ask the nations, as he separates them, “What do you believe?” As a child I was taught to delineate along lines of belief, but here Jesus separates based on actions. In Oman, I’ve been challenged to make sure that my actions are my confession, even as I proclaim with my lips that Jesus Christ is Lord.

A friend of mine, a young Muslim man, recently said to me, “There is a church about 5K from my house in Kashmir. I’ve never been there. But now I know and love the Meyers family, and they are Christian. I think I will go there this summer and see if the Christians there are anything like the Meyers.” What drove him to meet the Christians near his home wasn’t my orthodoxy, but the love and kindness he has received from my family over the last 4 years.

People often hear our words, or they hear words of people claiming to be Christian, and these words often feel unkind, inhospitable, and exclusive. Yet in this passage from Matthew we read a mandate to show hospitality and kindness above all else. I can’t change what other Christians say and proclaim, but I can give a bottle of water, spend time listening to a man who spends six and a half days a week in a small carpet shop, or welcome my Muslim neighbor into my home. My actions, my orthopraxy, witnesses to my faith in ways words never could. This witness is both to my neighbors and to the Son of Man who will judge all things.

As I try to synthesize my upbringing in the Reformed tradition, my life so far, my time in Oman, and this passage from Matthew, I’ve come up with this: our actions don’t make us righteous, but our actions bear testimony to our rightness with God.

Prayer for the day:
Hospitable God, helps us when we use words as a substitute for action. Guide us when we are tempted to walk by the stranger. Show us your self in those who we consider “other.” Allow our actions to witness to our faith, both to you and to those we meet as we live in your world. Amen.


Justin Meyers is the Associate Director of Al Amana Centre in Muscat, Oman.  An ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America, Justin pastored in New York prior to serving in Oman.  Al Amana Centre, the legacy of the Reformed Church in America’s medical and educational work in Oman, is committed to working for understanding and peace between Muslims and Christians.


  • mstair says:

    ” … our actions don’t make us righteous, but our actions bear testimony to our rightness with God.”

    Amen! I will attribute you as I quote this in the week to come, and add it to my favorites. Giving Thanks!

  • Daniel James Meeter says:

    This was another good one. I’m going to use one of your lines this morning.

  • sdoeschot says:

    Thank you, Justin! Wisdom for all of us who seek to align our lives with the reign of God!

  • RLG says:

    Thanks Justin for your perspective on Christianity and religion. Could it be easier to justify Christianity as a belief system over that of being an action system because it comes so much easier to believe than to act? But Christianity has a failsafe system in that acceptance with God requires perfection, hence “belief” or “trust” in Christ (belief). Be as good as you want or can, you won’t make it in Christianity, apart from faith or belief in Christ’s imparted goodness. It seems all religions have an inescapable belief system. And almost all are mutually exclusive. Christians believe “only” Christ will get you in the door. No other way. Exclusivity.

    Here’s the better way. St. Peter greets Bob (who had just died) at the pearly gates and offers him a tour of heaven. Early on the tour they come to a large room with large locked doors and a small window to see in. When Bob peeked in he saw all these people having a great time. So Bob asked who they were. St. Peter said, shhh, those are the Christians. They think they are the only ones up here (Remember – exclusivity). Moving along St. Peter and Bob came to another large room full of people. Again Bob asked, who are these? Oh, they are the Muslims. But, shhh, they think they are the only ones here. Then they came to another large room full of Hindus, then another room full of Jews. Finally Bob said, I don’t understand, how can this be? To which Peter said, just wait till the doors of their rooms are all opened and they all come out and see each other.

    Bob asked for an explanation. St. Peter said that they were all in heaven, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews, atheists, and non believers, not because of what they believed, but in spite of what they believed. They will all be in heaven simply because God is a loving God. This is deism at its best.

    Such a view makes so much more sense than the Christian view, in which God condemns all of humanity to an eternal damnation except for the few that he chooses for salvation.

    • /svm says:

      That’s what Neal Punt thought…

      • RLG says:

        That’s not, at all, what Neal Punt thought or taught. Neal Punt was a theist of the Christian variety, especially within the Reformed tradition (perhaps not a classical Calvinist). What I suggested was classical deism (if there is such a thing). Deism (as opposed to theism) believes in the existence of God based upon the evidence of reason and nature alone, with the rejection of supernatural revelation (such as the Koran, the Bible, or the Book of Mormon). All religions claim that their own Scriptures are divinely inspired and therefore the true revelation of and from God. Nothing unique about Christianity’s claim for a divinely inspired revelation.

        Reason and nature would tell anyone with common sense that God isn’t a hateful God intent on sending most people to a destiny of eternal torment. But rather God, like a loving father, loves his children in spite of the good or failings they commit in life. If there is a heaven, it would be a new beginning for all. That would be a reasonable understanding of God based on nature and reason.

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