There is a verse that we quote… typically we hear it in church right before an offering is taken for the ‘benevolent fund’, perhaps on the months that have five Sundays in them. This verse appears in a section of Matthew after a few parables and the section is intended to communicate the end of time, the final judgment. Here is the section of holy Scripture;
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 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. 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, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 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.’ “ – Matthew 25:31-40
There are several things to notice in this section of Scripture, and one of these is that the righteous served the ‘least of these’ without knowing that they were feeding the Lord. This means that the righteous followed His instruction to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and so on; they brought their faith into action.
I fear that sometimes we – as Christians in the Western world – read this section of Scripture and feel like each time we help ‘the least of these’ that we bank a ‘helping Jesus point’. At the end of time then, we will cash those ‘helping Jesus points’ in for stars in our crown (or whatever our rewards might be). Regardless eternal rewards, I think this mentality misses a critical point. Each of those downtrodden people – from our perspective – each of the ‘least of these’ is Christ! When we see a homeless person under a bridge, a frazzled single mother of three paying for groceries with a welfare card, a child in a developing country with malnutrition, a veteran with mental issues… each time we see them, we should see Christ!
Brothers and sisters, this fact should change our lives and our approach to living them. If the person in front of us at Sprouts who had trouble with their welfare card clearing, who was wrestling with three rowdy children, and who was fumbling with it all… overwhelmed by the situation was Christ; what would we do? What would we think? What grace would we give and how would we judge? Are these answers the same when it is a mere human? Why? What would our lives look like if we saw Christ each time we saw another person?
Think about what your life would look like… how would you live, if you only saw Christ where you see the ‘least of these’?