Monday, October 11, 2010

The Least of These...

When you think of it, this is a difficult concept.  Any definition of who this describes becomes slippery.  It’s a label no one wants to wear, yet Jesus clearly speaks about this reality. 

We just moved to Jefferson County, Kentucky.  You may have read about our school busing in the USA Today lately.  It is a case study in the “least of these.”  People from West Louisville are being bused to go to school with everyone else. People are upset, and stereotypes abound. 

We live in a nice area, next to nice people.  We often hear about “lower income families” and people with state assistance or health care.  Because of our daughter’s health situation, we have to stay at a salary right now to receive that state health care.  We are the unwanted neighbors that everyone is talking about, they just don’t know it. 

Some wonderful people are doing work in Ethiopia right now.  They are in one of the parts of Addis that is so difficult to walk into, yet even harder to walk away from.  I haven’t been to this place yet, but I’ve seen others.  Places where people are living in pieces of tin leaning on one another.  People drinking from the same river they use for a toilet.  These people would welcome death as an end to their pain.  When you are there it is so clear that they are “the least of these.”

I just returned from Addis to a city that is learning to love the poor in Africa.  The radio is raising sponsorship for children in Ethiopia.  Organizations are rising up to help everywhere.  People are changing the way that they live, but I cannot help wonder, are we missing “the least of these?”

For me, I want to devote my life to help those who are in need in other countries.  I want to work with those in West Louisville to see God’s Kingdom come alive in their midst.  At the same time, I have a hard time with passive Christians.  I pass them by.  Sadly, I’ve been known to judge them in my heart, seeing them as less than anyone else.  Isn’t that statement in my heart the very definition of “the least of these?”  Doesn’t my problem with the passive show the brokenness in my heart and where I need healing? 

For some of us “the least of these” are in Africa, and yet for others I know that is the trendy, easy scapegoat to use.  If “the least of these” are in Africa we don’t have to worry about our neighbor.  We just give our money, our time, our conversation and go on living unchanged.  I don’t think that is the gospel. 

Maybe for you, “the least of these" are the successful.  You would never say it out loud, but you can’t stand them.  Maybe they are the single parents, the delinquents, or the people on the west side.  Maybe it is those, like myself, who have their insurance through the state. 

I don’t know who “the least of these” are, but I’m pretty certain that there is not a definition to be placed on one people group.  “The least of these” is a matter of the heart.  Nikki and I have been talking about this all weekend and we are praying that some of you take time with your Father about this question.  Who are "the least of these" that He is inviting you to love?

Matthew 25:40
  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.'

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