THE service at Crediton Methodist Church on Sunday, November 26 was led by Rev Alison Richardson.

Being the Sunday before Advent, known as Christ the King Sunday, the reading was from Matthew and told the parable of the sheep and the goats. Jesus knew the scriptures so well and used them very effectively in His ministry. 

It is all about the end time when we will be judged.

We saw a typical painting depicting the end times showing the return of Jesus with sheep on His right and goats on His left.  

Jesus will reinstate harmony and bring the world back into balance.

So, who in our community are the sheep and who are the goats?  

It is easy to tell when actual sheep and goats are together, but not with people. 

Who are Christians and who are not? 

Sometimes it is easy to tell – by the way they dress, not always though.

So, how do we know?  Are we even meant to know?  

We are not to assume and not to judge either. 

We must look at the log in our own eye before looking at the speck in the eye of someone we reckon is not a Christian.

Believers and non-believers will be separated at the end time, but in between then and now everyone can be part of the kingdom of God. 

The reading about the sheep and goats brought hope to the first Christians. It brings challenges to us. Are we confident that we are doing well as Christians?  

Everything hinges in this passage on the way we have treated Christ’s brothers and sisters.  

Until the 20th century we were not often aware of discrimination against people in other countries. Radio, TV and the Internet have changed all this. The International Court of Justice was established and provides the international law many countries sign up to - not all.  

We were not aware of the massive and evil crimes against humanity either, but now we do know and we can, and should, take action against these atrocities.

We should not be motivated by a sort of superstitious type of expressing our faith. 

By this Alison meant that we are to act instinctively as Christ would. Imitating Christ is instinctive if we have a full relationship with Jesus through scripture and prayer.

That we act not out of fear of being judged as unrighteous when we are judged, but that we act out of love and compassion because our hearts and lives are full of Christ.

Alison spoke about  the people she has met on several visits to India’s slums who are discriminated against because they are not part of the Hindi caste system. They used to be called the “untouchables”. Now they call themselves Dalits – meaning broken, crushed people.

Earlier Alison said that this passage gave hope to the first Christians. It continues to give hope to many Christians who are discriminated against now and those who are persecuted because they are Christians too – as every Christian in India risks these days. Our actions in visiting them give them hope.

Bronwyn Nott