What you do for the people at church, you do as unto Jesus Himself. Jesus makes this point abundantly clear in Matthew 25. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, He describes two groups of people:
- One group is righteous.
- The other is not.
He describes the actions of the righteous people in this way (In verses 35-36), “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” The righteous were confused. They may have done those things for God’s people, but they never did them for Jesus personally. Then Jesus says these words in verse 40, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
Jesus was not talking about people in general in this parable. He was talking about people in the church – the brothers (or the brethren) in the body of Christ. The New Testament says a lot about helping the needy in general, but in this context, Jesus is saying that when you serve God’s people, you are serving Him.
- When we serve people in the church, we are serving Jesus.
- When we fail to serve people in the church, we are failing to serve Jesus
Neglecting the church is neglecting Jesus Himself. When people are “going to church” in their own private bedroom by watching podcasts or Christian television, it does not give them the opportunity to serve Jesus by serving His people.
I know there are seasons where a person may not be able to fellowship with God’s people.
- Sometimes because of an illness or a traumatic situation in a family, an individual may not be able to be around crowds for a period.
- Sometimes a family emergency takes a person out of town for a while.
BUT… these types of situations must be the exception. If a person is indifferent to the needs of God’s people, that would indicate that person is indifferent to Jesus Himself. Sheep outside of the flock are either sick or lost. A Christian outside of fellowship is also either spiritually sick or lost.