And the Lord said to them, ‘Let’s have a look how you got on. You fed the hungry, right?’
And they answered, ‘Well, we gave some money to charity a couple of times and we’re pretty sure the charity fed the hungry for us.’
‘Okay,’ he said, ‘I suppose I can give you some credit for that, though I have to say I was looking for something a little more… hands on. How about when people were naked – you know, needing their material needs met. How’d you get on then?’
‘The charities did that too, we think. Maybe.’
‘And the sick and imprisoned? You bother with them?’
‘Not so much,’ they answered. ‘Look, Lord, if people can’t take care of their own health needs or choose to live lawless lives, then that’s up to them. It’s really not up to us to help them out, now is it.’
‘I see. So how about the stranger, the homeless, the immigrant? You take any of them in? You cared for them?’
‘Well, no. I mean, if you’d said that’s what you wanted doing we would’ve done it, wouldn’t we. But you didn’t make it clear.’
‘I thought I had,’ he said. ‘Maybe it got lost somewhere in translation. Selling all you have to give to the poor, then? Surely some of you did that.’
‘One or two extremists maybe, but look where it got them. Obviously that daft instruction was meant only for the guy you were talking to – you know, the rich young ruler or whatever he was.’
‘Well, not exactly. I said it so many times in so many ways you’d have thought you’d have got the message.’
‘We’re not socialists, you know, even if you are,’ they said.
‘So how about turning the other cheek, then? Or going the extra mile? Giving to all who ask? Surely you managed those?’
‘Well, no. We felt you were speaking metaphorically when you said all that. You didn’t seriously expect us to do such ridiculous things, did you? I mean, we’re not doormats.’
‘So what is it you did in my name?’
‘Well, we accepted you as Lord and Savior. That’s all that’s required, isn’t it?’
‘Not really,’ he said. ‘Not if you didn’t do as I asked.’
‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, becoming exasperated. ‘We’re washed in the blood of the lamb. Sanctified and redeemed.’
‘You’re what?’ he said.
‘Sanctified and redeemed. Made spotless. You know, like Saint Paul explained.’
‘Saint who?’ the Lord said.
‘We worshipped you and praised your holy name,’ they went on. ‘Filled with your Holy Spirit we witnessed unto you and defended your Holy Word.’
‘But you didn’t actually do as I commanded?’ he said. ‘And you think that’s good enough?’
‘We stood up for you and for family life. We spoke out against unbelievers and sodomites and all those who were unholy, lest they bring down the Father’s wrath on all of us.’
‘You didn’t consider that to be judging, then?’ he asked. ‘Something else I told you not to do?’
‘Oh no, Lord, not really. We decided what you really meant was it was okay to judge so long as it was done righteously. We always judged righteously, so that was fine.’
‘Well,’ he said, ‘what can I say? You came up with a much better agenda than the one I left you with. Come in and dwell in the house of the Lord forever. You’re my kind of people.’
And, lo, the self-righteous stepped forward, ready to surge into heaven.
But he stopped them in their tracks. ‘Now you just hold on,’ he said, ‘I was being metaphorical there,’ and he stood up to his full height and cleared his throat. ‘Here’s the deal,’ he said, ‘Not everyone who keeps saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will get into the kingdom from heaven, but only the person who keeps doing the will of my Father in heaven… So, get away from me, you who practise evil. I never knew you.’
‘What?’ they said. ‘We didn’t think you really meant that. We’re washed in the blood of the lamb, you know.’