Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Least of These

Matthew 25:40 tells us "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."

A familiar verse to most of us. We feel good when we donate canned goods to the needy or put a few dollars into the benevolence fund at church, but does this really fill the mandate that Jesus has given us. I believe this Thomas Merton quote is more in keeping with the real meaning behind this verse: It is easy enough to tell the poor to accept their poverty as God"s will when you yourself have warm clothes and plenty of food and medical care and a roof over your head and no worry about the rent. But if you want them to believe you try to share some of their poverty and see if you can accept it as God's will for yourself.

Ouch, that hurt. While waiting for the school bus with my son yesterday morning he tried to convince me to warm up the car and drive him to the stop because it was so cold. I used the 15 or so minutes of waiting outside to remind him that people are living and dying because they have no warm home or car to retreat to. So, this week's project with him is to scour the house and get all those blankets and warm clothing that haven't been used recently to take to a homeless shelter.

But, the least of these are not just the poor. The least of these are those without a voice. I am strongly pro-life, but reject being placed in the same camp as many others calling themselves the same. The young women entering abortion clinics today are the generation raised with abortion on demand. Some may have had no personal contact with Christians until the day they go to enter an abortion clinic and hear shouts and words of anger and condemnation rained upon them. We should show the love of God and that there is a loving alternative. It is a shame on the name of Christ when the abortionists show more love than the protesting Christians outside. The only way we are going to change hearts is through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have found that people with mental health issues are actually shunned in many churches. I worked for a pastor who in a sermon spoke about how no matter how busy he was when a mentally retarded man in our congregation called he made the time to talk to him and to help him. As his secretary I knew the truth—he avoided the calls like the plague. The next time the man called and the pastor tried to run out I reminded him about his sermon, he took the call. I have had less understanding from previous churches about my son's mental health issues than I have received outside the church. Multiple times we had been told that if we didn't sit in the class with him he wasn't allowed to attend Sunday school or junior church. That was the only break I got all week from a child who has bi-polar disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, ADHD and sensory integration dysfunction. Often if someone had just sat next to him that would have calmed him, we had told them this and were ignored.

After getting my son on the bus and returning home I found another unlikely least of these being discussed on the news—Britney Spears. What? you may ask, am I crazy or what? The reporter was talking to one of the photographers who is constantly on her designer heels asking why they didn't just leave this tortured woman alone. His answer was "because people want to see it." But why would we not consider this woman as a least of these? MONEY. As Christians, are we no better at seeing the very real need that makes her a least of these than the unsaved world that says she has everything. She has a big house and all the people that can make money off her surrounding her, but I don 't see any evidence of the love of Christ in her. I also don't see anyone trying to reach her. I admit I was convicted of the fact that I have never prayed for her or her little boys who are no less precious than my own son.


Mrs. Wilt said...

What a fabulous post!

Thank you so much also for posting on my blog today. You blessed me so much. God truly can take that which is intended for evil and use it for His good. You are a dear. :o)

Anonymous said...

You have expanded my own definition of "the least of these" with your post today. The world seems to take delight in hearing about the troubles of the famous and wealthy. Secretly it makes us feel better to be able to say, well my family isn't perfect but at least we don't have THAT problem. But that is not Christ's message. I join you today in prayer for her and her family. Thank you for your insightful words.

Kim said...

Rita, thanks for your comments I do think it makes us feel better about ourselves when we compare ourselves with world when we should be measuring ourselves to Christ. And using this measuring stick we all fall very short of what we should be. I can't think of too many who need prayers more than she and her family. Thanks

Kelly (The Barefoot Mama) said...

This post is fantastic, Kim. I'm going to spotlight it on my blog today. :o) Very convicting and very true. Thank you again for sharing your heart here!

Chrissy said...

Great post!