The Message: "God All Around Us," August 14, 2022, Matthew 25:34-40

The Message: "God All Around Us," August 14, 2022, Matthew 25:34-40

Author: Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
August 16, 2022


“God All Around Us”
A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
Matthew 25:34-40

            Over the last few days, I have watched a handful of videos created by people sharing their perspective on the world today. Most of the videos were created by younger people, and they share a perspective that we may fail to consider when we look at the world. They did not say it in these exact words, but basically it was this: Today’s world is their “good old days.”

            People in their teens, twenties, and even some in their thirties have spent their entire lives in a period that makes some of us older folk shake our heads wondering, ‘how did we ever get here?’ We ARE here and this is the only world that they have ever known.

            They have not spent any time in Mayberry or on the Green Acres Farm. They do not know Mister Ed, Wally or Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver, or Hazel. They likely think that “Father Knows Best” refers to an oppressive patriarchal hierarchy rather than a favorite family television program.

            They have grown up in a world of chaos and anger and violence. They have eaten a steady diet of hatred and ugliness. They have seen expressions of love rejected. They have seen and experienced expressions of personhood reviled and denigrated. They have seen people attacked on the street because of their heritage, and people run down and killed because of the color of their skin. They have seen riots and protests, and neighbors attacking neighbors.

            Of course, we saw it too on the evening news, or we read about it in the papers. But for this generation, it is streamed to their phones and other devices in a never-ending deluge of ugliness.

            One sociologist suggested that because this is their “normal,” this is their reality, some people feel more comfortable in the chaos. In fact, times of peace or the lack of turmoil makes them feel uncomfortable, so they seek out or even create chaos so as to restore that sense of “normal” in their lives.

            Is it any wonder that so many of them question God?

            Is it any wonder that so many of them look at the world around them, or look at their own lives and experiences and question the existence of God?

            Is it any wonder that many of them reject God all together and seek solace elsewhere?

            Naturally, it also follows that a population … an age group … that tends to drift away from organized religion, even in the best of times, has abandoned any notion of attending or participating in church? They want nothing to do with a gathering of people who are either fools or hypocrites.

            Of course, pastors and preachers, rabbis and teachers talk about God being all around us. God is omni-present. There is nowhere that we can go where we are not in the Presence of God. Even in the depths of Sheol, God is there.

            And they say … “Oh yeah? Well, I have not seen God?”

            It is their version of folks from Missouri, the ‘Show Me’ state. “If God is really there … show me. Prove it!”

            Let me say that they do believe that there is good in the world. They do see the good, they just do not necessarily attribute it to God.

            That is why videos like this go viral:

            [Show Little League World Series video.]

            That video has been picked up by virtually every news outlet. As I said, it has gone viral. It has been on every social media platform and has been viewed millions of times. In this world of chaos and turmoil, in this world of anger and violence, in this world of division and vitriol, people are desperate for the good.

            Those of us here in this room, or watching online, are not that different than the rest. We want our hearts to be touched by stories of care and compassion. We love the stories of generosity and gratitude. However, we may be more inclined to see the good and see God there.

            I shared in the Weekly Update on Friday, that throughout my ministry, I have had numerous occasions in which I asked people to share their ‘God Sightings.’ During the course of youth group meetings, Vacation Bible School, spiritual retreats, or even business meetings, I have asked people to share where they have seen or experienced God that day.

            So … I am going to do that right now. I am going to play Phil Donahue (someone else that those younger folk have never seen or heard of) and enter the “audience.” I invite you to share your God Sightings. Where or how have you seen or experienced God today? Or this week? How has God touched you?

            [Let people share their stories.]

            As you know, and as you have shared … God is all around us. God is in the good. God is in the beautiful. God is in the selfless sharing. God is in the acts of caring.

            How do we tell the others? How do we share the Good News?

            We show them.

            That is where our Gospel lesson for today comes in. This is a parable, a lesson, that is familiar to al of us. It is the concluding verses of Jesus’ story of the shepherd separating the sheep and the goats on the Day of Judgement. This is the climax in which the sheep have received their reward, and they are told why. Jesus tells them that every time they helped the ‘least of these’ they helped him.

            The larger passage is sometimes referred to as the “Judgement of the Nations” or the “Judgement of the Gentiles,” but those titles do not apply to these verses. The longer passage is a reference to the Day of Judgement when all will be judged. Yes … all the world will be judged on that day. But this pericope … these verses at the end of the passage are not directed at the Gentiles, or the nations. These verses are directed at a smaller audience … the followers of Jesus Christ.

            He is saying to them, “Remember the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ when I laid out the foundational principles for the Kingdom of Heaven? Remember when I taught you about the Greatest Commandment to love God with all your heart, strength, mind and soul, and then to love your neighbors as yourselves? Well, that is the standard by which you will be judged.”

            In these verses, Jesus was not admonishing the non-believers or the unchurched among them … or among us. He was admonishing the believers … those who are supposed to know better, act better, and be better.

            Jesus had laid out his expectations in the Sermon on the Mount. And then in these verses he tells us that we will be judged by how well we live up to those expectations. As I mentioned a moment ago, doing good deeds and treating others well is not exclusively a Christian thing. Everyone is capable of treating their neighbors with kindness and compassion. However, Christians are called to be kind and compassionate. We are called to love God and to love our neighbors. It is not optional. It is not something that we can do for “extra credit.” It is our greatest, our primary, commandment.

            As we look at the passage, we do not hear Jesus say anything about a Bible quiz. He does not ask for our worship attendance records or an accounting how many meetings we attended. (Although … please do attend worship and meetings!) There is no confession of faith. He simply wants to know: “Did you help? Did you love?”

            That is our ultimate commandment, the foundation of our life in the Kingdom of God. Did we love?

            Did we love and serve without any expectation of receiving anything in return?

            Did we serve and love without any expectation of recognition or reward?

            Did we love? Period.

            We do not have to do anything that is a grand gesture. We do not have to donate a wing for the local hospital. We do not have to lead a pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the season of Lent. Those things are wonderful, but Jesus wants to know that we did the simple things, the basic things.

            Did we feed someone who was hungry?
            Did we visit someone who was lonely?
            Did we care for a sick child?
            Did we help a homeless woman?
            Did we love?

            Did we live in such a way that someone saw or experienced God in us?
            Were we someone’s light in the midst of their darkness?
            Were we someone’s comfort in the midst of their pain?
            Were we someone’s only experience of love, or care, or compassion at a time when they were ready to give up?

            Someone once told me: “Remember this … there will be days when you will be someone’s only experience of God.”

            May we live and may we love in such a way that someone will see God today.



Congregational Church