The works we do must also be fired by a clear and relentless witness to the love of God and the need for salvation of souls.
The first thing Jesus did when he appeared was to preach the gospel of repentance. This was was his primary purpose and first witness. His works of feeding the poor and healing the sick was the result of firstly his unity with God the Father and his preaching the message of repentance.
The message is very simple and his command to the disciples is also very clear. They must feed the hungry but the Great commission is not “Go out and feed everyone and solve the poverty problem” it is “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The parable of the sheep and goats can therefore be extended and stood on its head: Christ the Judge will say to those who did not feed the hungry “Depart from me” but he will also say to those apostles who did not preach the gospel and make disciples, “Depart from me” Why? because they did not feed the hungry with the spiritual bread and the salvation of their souls.
What I love about this analysis is that both the command to feed the hungry and preach the gospel takes our religion out of the realm of the theoretical and theological and makes it real, and this is what Christianity is all about: it is incarnational. It fleshes out the theory. It is the Divine Mercy in working clothes. This is reality gospel.
One of the great problems in Christianity today is that it has become a head game. We debate this and argue about that. We escape from the nitty gritty demands of reality gospel into matters of fine taste in worship or refined views of theology. We hide ourselves in our religious fortresses peering over the walls to fire the odd arrow at the enemy outside when Jesus shows us the way is to open the fortress doors and wade out into the enemy territory to rescue the perishing and to seek and to save that which is lost.