The Common Good

Audio: 'If You Don't Do Compassion, Mercy, and Justice, You Will Catch Hell'

It's always hard to narrow down Pastor Efrem's sermons to a few key minutes, and this one was no exception. Preaching from Matthew 25, he puts some extended focus on the health-care debate. Specifically, he laments the tone certain media figures have taken -- left and right--as well as challenging public officials, including Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, whose positions seem to be at odds with a concern for the most vulnerable. This pastor pulls no punches:

"How can you say you're going to fight against health care for people that don't have it...and be an evangelical Christian?"

He expands this challenge to explain the mandate for justice expressed through the parable in Matthew. While salvation can't be earned by works, salvation and service are in relationship, and there will be a "performance review." Jesus changed how atonement is accomplished, but he did not alter God's mandate for justice. As Pastor Efrem puts it bluntly:

"If you don't do compassion, mercy, and justice, you will catch hell."

He then connects Isaiah 58 and Jeremiah 5 with Matthew 25 to challenge us. Although God's perfect justice will be accomplished at the return of Christ, until then, it's "just us" -- working to be compassionate, healing, reconcilers building the Kingdom.

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Efrem Smith is the senior pastor of The Sanctuary Covenant Church, with the vision to be an urban, multi-ethnic, relevant, holistic, and Christ-centered community. He has held leadership positions in organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of America and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and is the author of numerous articles and books, including The Hip-Hop Church.

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