Least of these, Part 4

Least of theseMatthew 25:37-40 “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?39  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

orphans 1widowsJames 1:27, Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

When one reads the four Gospels one thing becomes very clear, wherever Jesus went He drew a crowd. This seems so unlike many of us today. Rather than attracting people, we often find ourselves repelling or chasing people away. Notice what one author noted about this very matter:

Now, a decade later, the image of the Christian faith has suffered a major setback. Our most recent data show that young outsiders have lost much of their respect for the Christian faith. These days nearly two out of every five young outsiders (38 percent) claim to have a “bad impression of present-day Christianity.” Beyond this, one-third of young outsiders said that Christianity represents a negative image with which they would not want to be associated. … 

GhandiWhen outsiders claim that we are unChristian, it is a reflection of this jumbled (and predominantly negative) set of perceptions. When they see Christians not acting like Jesus, they quickly conclude that the group deserves an unChristian label. Like a corrupted computer file or a bad photocopy, Christianity, they say, is no longer in pure form, and so they reject it. One-quarter of outsiders say that their foremost perception of Christianity is that the faith has changed for the worse. It has gotten off track and is not what Christ intended. Modern-day Christianity no longer seems Christian.

Another author wrote:

While we’ve been charged to “equip the saints” for works of service, the brutal truth is that most of us have reduced our expectations of “serving” to a once-a-month tour of duty as an usher or greeter. We’ve settled for serving ourselves and serving as an event rather than serving those in need and living a new way of life that Jesus has called us to. There’s got to be more to church than this. … Jesus knew exactly what he was doing when he told us to serve the least. He knew that if we would serve them, we would become agents of change. Despair would change to hope. The reputation of his bride would change. And along the way, our hearts and minds would change. We need that in the church today.

If you take Jesus and His brother James’ words above, it isn’t hard to see that God is looking for a people who have a love for the unloved, a heart for “the least of these.” Who are these folks? Well, according to Jesus, they are the poor and the needy, the immigrants and the refugees (strangers), the sick, and those in prison. James adds to the list, by referring to the fatherless (orphans) and widows?

In other words, our Lord Jesus attracted people, especially “the least of these,” because He loved them and cared for their needs, and not simply their “spiritual needs,” but their physical needs. Here’s the kicker, Jesus has commanded us to love and care for them them too!

Yet, if we were truly honest and looked at our own lives and many of our churches, most of us would have to admit that we are spending very little of our time, talents, and treasures to care for “the least of these.”

orphans 2In our last post, we took a brief look at the poor. In today’s post, let’s take a few moments and consider the orphans. Did you know that there are 153 million orphans worldwide?  That would be nearly half the population of the United States. And sadly multiplied millions of these end up in the sex-slave trade industry. There are 400,000 orphans in the United States who are waiting to be adopted.

That’s 153 million children “around the world” and 400,000 children “around the corner” who are waiting and longing for someone to love them. As Christians and churches, what are we doing about this great need? As one author noted,

ghandi 2We are to love our neighbor as we do ourselves. Yet we think more about our Sunday bulletin than we think about the orphan crisis in our world. We believe the church is to be like a city on a hill and a light to the world, but we’re more concerned about the new recessed lighting in our lobbies than we are poverty in our city. I’m not convinced that we’re really convinced. … I’m not convinced we even know what it means to love our neighbor. I’m not convinced we care. I’m not convinced because if we did, it would change the way we live.

Hey church, we might want to get our priorities straight! Someone once said, “Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it. But, I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.”

Just Reflecting on The Least of These!

“You can always identify the righteous by their attitude and actions toward the least of these. Always!”

2 thoughts on “Least of these, Part 4

  1. Thank you for these nuggets of truth! Perhaps a man’s character is best judged by what he does for those who can do nothing for him.

    Like

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