The least of these....most of us

James 1:27

English Standard Version (ESV)

27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, andto keep oneself unstained from the world.

Matthew 25:31-45

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separatesthe sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 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,[a] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

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This morning at our church we had our old teaching pastor and his younger brother (who is disabled and was deemed unworthy of completing seminary due to his condition) teach at our church.  This weekend was to highlight our Reflectors ministry in helping those families that have disabled members.  There was a staggering statistic that 20% of families have disabled family members and that a good portion of these families do not attend a church because either the church cannot handle them, does not welcome them or simply does not carry their burdens (will explain that statement later).

I want to praise our church leadership and the Reflectors ministry leader (aka Vinnie).  I want to thank the leadership for "getting out of the boat" and out of our comfort zone into a ministry that clearly bears the fruit of the Spirit on this ministry.  What compels me to write this post are this:

  • We are all broken (a sinful people separated from God if we do not have his Son, Jesus, as our savior)
  • We, like Chris (the Pastor's little brother), are broken and twisted inside if we lack the knowledge of Jesus as savior
  • We need Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God in our lives
  • We cannot do this on our own
  • When we are the body of Christ, doing what God calls us to do, instead of what we think we ought to do, God moves in mighty ways
  • We need to let go and let God.

This ministry impacted me in a very mighty way a few months back.  As an elder of this church we have to meet with new members (people need to attend our discovery class before they can join and we have to make sure that they know the Lord as Savior as they want to become part of the body of Christ at our church).  Well, I had the pleasure to meet a single mother who had a special needs child.  She asked to meet with me and another elder.  I recognized the name immediately and was glad to meet with her with another elder and myself.  Several years ago (about  10 to 12 years ago) I was, at that time, taking the train into work and would talk to her in the morning.  We would talk about faith and about her son and about life.  I would encourage her to visit our church, but up until just this past year, she never wanted to attempt "church" with her son due to his special needs.  Once, however, the Reflectors ministry took off, more of her friends planted the seed and she eventually came and brought her son.  Upon the first visit she was hooked and then proceeded to join our church.  She wanted to meet me because she heard my name in church as an Elder and wanted to personally thank me for inviting her.  What struck me was how God works on His timing - 10 years he has been working on this lady and was faithful through it all - praise God!

In the message today, Pastor Jeff shared how some families would take their special needs children to various churches and that these bodies would treat them as outcast and would isolate them in such a way that they felt like they weren't welcome.  Things like moving away from where they were sitting to completely being shut-off from the body.  I don't blame the church for this, I blame the ignorance of myself and others who don't understand God's love and His son's heart for the broken.  Because, if I am honest enough, I am like this special needs child whose head (Jesus being our head) is not connected to my sinful body.  Somehow, I need the receptors and neurons and chords and nerves to work and because of my sin - they don't connect.  Once I accepted Jesus in my heart and He called me to be his own -that all changed.

As disciples of Christ we are called to be pure, to be holy and to get out of the proverbial boat.  We are called to be the body of Christ.  We are called to do to the least of these.  We are the least of these in our broken bodies.  Sin separating us from a holy and righteous God - thank you Jesus for what you have done for us.

Jesus is asking us today to do to the least of these as we have done to him.  That is a lesson that I never want to forget.  This was a message that rings truth in my heart, ears, head and soul.

The challenge that we were left with was to:

Serve these needs for the least of these (the least in ourselves, that is, we are all broken)

Treat them as ourselves (special needs are still one of us)

To care for them like we care for our bodies

To love them

reflectThe biggest thing that struck me today was watching the parents of those children who were singing with Vinnie and our worship team this morning.  They were smiling and praising God for a church body who told them that they belong to our body.  That we love them and that we are have to carry each others burdens.  I love my church!  I love a God who gave His only son for us.  I love this God who gives me second and third and multiple chances to get out of my way to to follow his Way!

Blessings,

Dante