TWO Kinds of People?

sheepgoats

There are two kinds of people in the world, according to humorist Robert Benchley:

“Those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.”

It’s human nature to distill human nature down to simple dichotomies — good/bad, smart/dumb, masculine/feminine, young/old, optimistic/pessimistic, them/us, and so on.

But life is not simple and neither are people. All our efforts, however lightly spoken, to separate people into two “kinds” ironically point out how different we all are. Two categories to sum up humanity are insufficient.

However, one challenging parable seems to place Jesus in the category that believes that there ARE two kinds of people. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus paints a picture of the Messiah as ultimate people sorter:

“All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.”

Seems clear, doesn’t it? There are goat people and sheep people, those judged righteous and those pronounced accursed. Jesus says there will be two kinds of people — IN or OUT. The basis for sorting? Mercy and care for the down and out and overlooked.

However…

Note who is judged — all the nations gather before the Savior King. In the holy city of Jerusalem, Jesus tells a story in which the Gentiles (“the nations,” i.e. non-Jews) are not excluded from God’s covenant considerations.

To a people who KNEW there were two kinds of people — Israelites and the nations, Jews and Gentiles, Jesus says the Great Sorter imparts one and the same mission and applies one and the same standard to all people, even them, the Gentiles.

It has been said that there are two kinds of people — those who help people up and those who hold people down.

However, by including Gentiles in God’s mercy, Jesus points out that we are NOT two or three or 47 kinds of people, but ONE people responding thankfully for God’s mercy or not, showing mercy or not.

We all have reason to thank God, every single one of us.

We are all created in God’s image, every single one of us.

We are all children of God, every single one of us.

We are all called to love one another, every single one of us.

The Lord is our Good Shepherd, and we are all the sheep of His pasture, every single one of us. And truth be told, we can all act like goats sometimes, too.

We all sin and fall short of God’s standard, but Jesus Christ died and rose for us, and his offering reconciles us, every single one of us.

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