In my earlier allegiance to Orthodox Christianity I was puzzled by the New Testament’s mention of a divine judgment in accordance with works, how one behaved in this life. That judgment is noted in the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 and several places in Revelation, for example. Jesus, in particular, highlights that the works in question are how we treat one another, not any actions toward God directly.
My Baptist upbringing emphasized strongly that my acceptability before God was not a function of works or behavior but rather my faith in Jesus. Thus any judgment according to behavior seemed a denial of the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Other faiths brought works into the salvation equation in various ways, ultimately combining faith and works in the process.
Orthodoxy and the institutional church generally assume universal judgment to be a future event, so most Christians should anticipate experiencing an accounting of their behavior toward others. That belief should logically affect the political positions of church since those establish the policies by which we collectively treat others.
Ironically though, what we often witness is the church’s support for policies which appear at odds with the Matthew 25 judgment. Somehow the church seems to divorce its politics from the implications of a judgment according to how we treat one another.
If the state is the agency of our collective will and the administrator of behaviors toward one another, how can our collective responsibility in that regard be separated from our individual accountability in any divine judgment? Aren’t the policies we support an extension of our attitude toward and treatment of others?
Rejection and indifference toward others was the ground for punishment in Matthew 25. It identified one as a goat, not a sheep.