Monday, November 10, 2008

Of the Least of These

Photo by Derek Langley

"Come, you that 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 something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'"
- Matthew 25.34 - 40, NRSV

It's very important to me that we understand the words that Christ gave us. Christ is telling us to help the poor, the oppressed, the hungry, the imprisoned, the orphan, the widow, the sick, the homeless; and in doing so, we are being an offering for Christ. For he tells us that whatever we do to and for these people, we do to and for him. Those are powerful words. Let's use this as a time for brief meditation and reflection.

Close your eyes and picture yourself sitting with Jesus. In a park, at a coffee shop...where ever you are or need him to meet you. It's just you and him. No words. No judgment. No world to separate you. Look up at him. Look in his eyes. Can you see yourself in his eyes? Can you see how much he loves you? Can you see the pain he endured to set you free? Can you see the tears he cried for you? Look deep within those tears and look for yourself within the pain to see what pain you have relieved. Do you see the faces of those you have touched? Those you've helped? Who were the least of these that you loved like you love Jesus?

This isn't an easy exercise to do. It often reveals that even in our own hearts, we know we are lacking. Life gets so busy, so hectic and then it gets away from us. Before we know it, our lives are passing us by as we desperately cling to the things of this world that don't matter rather than the least of these. We put our prayer life aside, our fellowship aside by sleeping in on Sunday mornings. We excuse ourselves, sometimes not politely, from service and mission work. We turn on our tunnel vision and move right past those around us who need us. We look ahead at the stoplight when a homeless child is right next to the car asking for money...we pretend they are not there. We don't stop to help the mother in the store whose arms are full and whose toddler is throwing things out of the cart. We don't open doors for people. We don't give up our seat for the elderly person who struggles to stand. We don't tithe like we are asked. And to think...these are just a few of the least of the things Jesus asked us to do. Where would we be if Jesus had turned on his tunnel vision and pretended that we weren't there?

Whatever you do to the least of these you do to me. Powerful words. So, if I ignore that man on the corner...I ignore Jesus. If I focus on me and not the girl in Ghana who needs fresh water, I'm not focusing on Jesus. See where I'm going? It starts to hurt when you take time to be self reflective and think on the areas you're weakest. How could I, a good and faithful Christian, be so cruel to Jesus? How is this true? It's painful and uncomfortable, but Jesus said it anyway. He knew we would become complacent. He knew we would forget. And more over, what really moves me here, is that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, but love our neighbors as we love Christ. God created us all inherently good. We were not created evil...evil just snuck in. That goes for teenagers, politicians, co-workers, spouses, family, friends, name it. We are all broken, but all loved by the same God no matter what we do.

So, how are we doing? If you were to grade yourself on your performance, what would you get? It's a tough one for me too because I'm impossibly flawed. But I know that God loves me because why else would Jesus have died for me? Thus, its important that we die to ourselves, our selfishness, our complacency so that we may live.

Today and everyday, remember the least of these and remember that one day, a man died so that you, one of the least of these, could be saved. Pay it forward.


Jenifer said...

Beautiful, powerful, and very challenging. Thank you so much for the reminder to serve as if I were serving Christ Himself.


Francois said...

That was awesome, thank you so much for making me turn the spotlight on myself again. Sometimes we just get caught up in life and forget about the important things.

God bless you

thekingpin68 said...

Good evening.

To help the least of these in my mind is following Matthew 22 and Mark 12 and loving one's neighbour as self. This includes care of all kinds when one can provide it.

Jim sent me to this blog. I am linked with both Jim and Tamela.

You have a very artistic blog and I am going to see the new 007 on Sunday with my pastor and a friend.

I am interested in theology and have a PhD under review at Wales.

I have two philosophical theology blogs and am always looking for readers, commenters and links. I of course will reciprocate.:)

Happy Weekend,




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