Thursday, June 17, 2010

Deeds and Creeds

Matthew 25:41-46:
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

This passage tells us that if you call Jesus "Lord" but don't really live like he is, you do not really worship him. Your deeds matter.

Matthew 7:22-23:
On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

What I find interesting about this passage is that the unrighteous are pleading their deeds. They allegedly did "mighty works" in Jesus' name. But he still says to them, "I never knew you." Clearly creeds (or beliefs) matter. (And what I find interesting is that despite their works, Jesus faults them for working "lawlessness," which would seem to imply to me that good works done apart from saving knowledge of Jesus Christ -- which we could just call moralism -- are lawless deeds. It is like trying to live a kingdom without its King.)

What these two passages together tell me is that neither good works nor good standing with Christ are expendable. What they tell me is that "deeds vs. creeds" is a false dichotomy worthy of hell.


Josh C said...

the Matthew 25 passage seems to lean more to the "identifying with the persecuted brethren" (following Jesus' predictions in Matthew 24) than to its popular "social gospel" application.

but your main point here is dead-on, I think. I also try to remember that saying "deeds, not creeds" is ironically a creed, not a deed.

Jared said...

But you're saying it, so it's a deed too. :-)

I think gospel proclamation is the chief good work. But I'm a weirdo.