This past Sunday, my pastor continued his sermon series called Making Disciples. He titled Sunday’s message as The Least, the little, and the lost. He pulled from a variety of scripture passages in the New Testament. The crux of my pastor’s message had to do with discipling the least, the little, and the lost in our daily lives and within the context of the church. Because it’s been a few days since Sunday, the sermon has marinated a bit in my mind and heart.
The pastor spoke out of Matthew 25:31-46 with respect to the least. This passage and the subsequent thoughts regarding the least have bubbled up constantly over the last few days. Jesus characterizes the least as those who are either strangers, naked, hungry, sick, or in prison. I will expand this list to include the orphan, those with physical and mental disabilities, those afflicted with terminal illnesses, the criminal and the shut-ins. There are many more, but I think the point is clear. Do I live my life, or have I orchestrated my life in such a way as to avoid crossing paths with the least?
I spend eight hours of my day working at a job where I believe the Lord has placed me. Another eight hours is set aside for sleep, which is essential to healthy living and serving. This means that I spend 16 of the 24 hours on me. The remaining eight hours wind up split between leisure, errands, and opportunities for potential interruptions. At work, I do come across colleagues who fall under the least category in emotional and spiritual ways. There’s a part of me that feels like Jesus’s words mean more than just the spiritual sense. This is not to suggest that Jesus’s words in Matthew 25 lack a spiritual meaning. In fact, I believe that Matthew’s gospel transcends time, which gives it meaning to all generations throughout this present age. That being said, the list of the least is very specific.
In Matthew 25:34-40, Jesus commends the sheep to his right for the following specific ways, which demonstrate their compassion: clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, sheltering the stranger, and visiting the prisoner. Any one of those actions has the potential to interrupt my daily schedule and cost me money. Implicit in scripture is the notion that I will be inconvenienced by those in need. The parable of the good Samaritan compares and contrasts the Samaritan’s willingness to be inconvenienced versus the priest and the Levite who pass by the half dead man as they go about their day. The good Samaritan’s actions fly in the face of today’s culture, which adheres to the saying that time is money and money is time.
Los Angeles defines itself as a hurried city, a place inhabited with people on the go. I am one of those on-the-go people. It takes self-discipline just to stop, look and listen to what transpires all around me. It takes divine grace in order to see the least for how the Lord sees them. Thankfully, the Lord offers a plan. I must check myself before the mirror of God’s word, which exposes the darkness within my heart in order to confess it and repent of it. After this takes place, it becomes crucial to acknowledge that the Lord has bestowed grace upon me through this process. Because I’ve received and experienced his grace, he calls me to share it with the least. I’m a repository of his sovereign grace for others in my life. It’s time to give grace away.
Here are some parting thoughts: who are the least in my day to day living? Do I see them as bearers of God’s image, who need his grace? What are the attitudes within me that must die at the cross of Christ in order to see the least as God sees them? and disciple them by the gospel?