The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:40
For the past several Summers I have veered away from my bible reading plan and read instead the gospels of the New Testament.
Each and every day that I read a passage, I have to stop. Take a breath. Take it all in.
I read slow. Sometimes I don't even finish a chapter. I look deep into the words. I try to visualize the scene.
With each passage, another treasure uncovered. Just when I think there is no possible way of getting anything else out of a scripture, the Lord reveals something else to my awaiting heart.
When I read about the Pharisees, I tend to tighten my lips and feel a pang of oneness with them. I have been like the Pharisee. I have been like a whitewashed tomb. White and clean on the outside, but full of dirt on the inside.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. Matthew 23:27
I cringe ate the thought.
The times when I thought that rubbing elbows with church people could make me clean. The times when I thought that if I said the right thing, and did the right thing, then that was all that mattered. Forgetting that God saw my heart.
Before I found the Grace of Christ, I thought I had to muster up goodness. I thought I had to strive and work, and pretty up for God.
I remember the first time I served in a homeless shelter. For the first time in my life, I felt home.
It was the strangest thing.
I felt free.
I felt like I belonged.
I felt like I had found my people.
What in the world?
Yet, as I read through the New Testament, I am reminded of who Jesus spent his time with. Certainly not religious folks. They knew the old testament inside out but had no idea the true meaning. Their lives were on display for humans instead of on fire for God.
Jesus hung with the least of these.
The ones who were forgotten. The ones who were shunned. The ones who were not thought highly of. The ones who society did not accept.
Those were Jesus' people.
When Jesus heard this, he told them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners." Matthew 23:27
Jesus knew they needed Him. Jesus knew they were hungry for Him.
The religious people were too starved of humility to realize their need for Christ.
White washed tombs.
Something awakens in our hearts when we hang with people that cannot do anything for us. Something happens in our souls when we hang with people with no agenda and no desire for something from us--except maybe a warm meal and a kind word.
A flame ignites.
We become closer to Jesus when we get closer to the least of these.
Who are the least of these in your life?
Is it someone you see but have never really "seen"?
Lord, open our eyes.
Let us see what You see.
Ignite our hearts with the desire to be in the company of those that the world rejects. Because, those are the ones you welcome, Lord.