Friday, January 14, 2011

Preaching to the Choir.

As you read this, I hope one of two things, that you feel as passionately about it as I do or that it will be like having a bucket of ice water poured over your warm, sleeping spirit, so that you will wake up and take notice. A lot of what I share on my blog when it comes to spiritual things comes from what God is teaching me personally. So, please know my heart that if what you read here sounds like I'm preaching, it's because I'm preaching to the choir of me.

It takes all kinds of people to make the world go 'round. And then there are the 'special people'. You know, the people that everyone cringes to talk to, or tries to avoid altogether. The mentally or socially interesting people. You know what I'm talking about. These people don't bother me. I talk to them, hug them, listen politely when they speak to me. And occasionally someone will ask me, "How do you deal with the 'special people'?" I just shrug it off and say, "I don't know. They're just people."

I was at a church function recently and talked with a couple of people like I just described. And when our conversation ended, my friend sitting next to me said, "Good job." I knew what she meant, but I wanted to see what she would say, so I questioned her about her meaning. "Well, several people have told me that they don't want to talk to them. You did it with grace."

I wasn't a bit surprised by her answer, but it did make me want to shake all the people that had said that, or thought it. What my friend doesn't know is that God has been dealing with me very strongly about 'special people'. While I will accept a hug or listen to them politely, I don't truly show love to them. I don't take time to learn who they are, most of the time I don't even take enough time to learn their names. They're just people. So, I turned to my friend and said, "God has shown me recently that those people are the least of these."


They are the LEAST OF THESE. The ones Jesus talked about. The ones that separated the sheep from the goats. The ones that represent Jesus. The ones that if you ignore them you're a GOAT! DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO GOATS? You DON'T want to be a GOAT!

I don't want to be a goat. Nope.

The Least of These. They are the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned. What if they are the hungry for love? Or thirsty for attention? What if the stranger is simply stranger than you? Or the emotionally naked? What if it's the hypochondriac? What if it's the obnoxious, complaining, legalistic, arrogant, loud-mouth that's imprisoned by his own bad attitude? These. These are the ones. The ones that we are called to meet their needs, to feed them, give them a drink, invited them in, clothe them, care for them and visit them.

Oh WAKE UP, church! Please, wake up!

Do you know them? Who are your least of these? Who are the ones you graciously brush off? The ones you endure but really can't stand? You know them. Sure, the least of these are orphans and widows around the world, the poor and impoverished, even the homeless. But that's not all, no that's not all. They are in your church, they are in your office, they could even be in your family. The least of these.

But listen. LISTEN!

Think about the goats. The goats ignored them, brushed them off, left them hungry, thirsty, lonely, naked, sick and imprisoned alone. And bad things happen to the goats in the end, BUT THAT'S NOT THE POINT! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! He said if you don't care for the least of these, you don't care for HIM! We have an opportunity to lavish love on Jesus, and we are missing it! How can I say I love Jesus (and I DO love him), and not take every opportunity to LAVISH love on him?

I want to be a sheep who loves my shepherd.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“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.’
~Matt. 25:37-40
{whole parable: Matt. 25:31-46}