Mr. and Mrs. Billy dressed up in their finest toad clothes and ventured over the threshold of their local church one Sunday. Holding hands, their shoulders pressed into one another’s to find comfort in response to the alarming sight. In this small town many of the faces were familiar. There was the high school principal, the convenience store clerk, the coffee shop server and even the mayor. This they had expected, but what shocked them was that everyone was dressed up in neat, and somewhat showy, sheep costumes. Even the goats like them. There were a few real sheep: the pastor and his wife, a very sweet couple who helped with the local thrift store on the side; the town grounds keeper who kept the place looking far nicer than his teeth which his wide, friendly smile displayed for all he chanced to meet; the postman who greeted adults, gave candy to children and treats to dogs, but was never known for his accuracy; and a few others.
The mayor grinned and welcomed them with sweeping gestures but Mr. & Mrs. Billy eyed him warily, noting how odd his sheep-suit fit his lanky goat frame. Likewise the high school football coach greeted the Billys as if they were long lost siblings, though they had met only once and he had to ask their names. He, too, looked out of place in his sheep polo shirt and jeans.
The Billys slid uneasily into a back row as the singing began, led by a smattering of goats playing and singing with great flourish, and sheep simply playing and singing. It seemed very theatrical to the Billys, and insincere, since the lyrics spoke as if everyone were sheep and that was so clearly untrue, even of the leaders.
Slipping out into the noonday heat, the Billys breathed a sigh of relief, thankful to be back in the familiar world where goats acted like goats and sheep like sheep. They wondered aloud if those silly people in the church would ever realize that dressing and acting like a sheep on Sunday mornings didn’t turn a person into a sheep. That transformation involved a complete change of identity and required a miracle. As for them, they wanted nothing to do with such a motley crowd.
Even still, they felt strangely drawn to the handful of true sheep, though they were often quirky and funny looking. They seemed to have a sweet, gentle spirit in common with each other and to reallycare for each other in the course of life.
Watching them walk away, I wondered on which side of the goat-sheep dividing line they would be on the final day. Would they remain as goats or make the commitment to become sheep? And what of all these others, who fancied themselves sheep but in fact were goats who never responded to what they saw in the Mirror.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:22-23)
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For 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.’
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)