For many of us Jesus’ words about ‘the least of these’ fall on deaf ears. We love who love us, much like the Pharisees and live our lives occasionally reaching out, but not too far, for those who are hurting, but certainly not beyond our comfort zones. We will reach for those things we are passionate about, can make sense of what we are doing or why we are doing it, get behind a cause or rally to this or that with the idea that ‘the least of these’ is who we are representing or who we work for.
The least can be defined by society and certainly our society produces those who are the greatest and the least in many ways, but if you take the conversation deeper I wonder what you may find.
Who is the least like you? Who repulses you due to their stance on different issues? Whose actions make you want to speak ill of them? Of course anyone marginalized in society could fall generally under these headings but again, if you go deeper, who is it you would least like to be associated with?
While the focus is usually on the people and their behavior, attitudes and vitriol, station in life, what is it in you or about you that cannot love them?
I was recently pressed into service of those with whom I have very little in common and in whose company I get very uncomfortable. Not knowing how to relate or even what to do I began asking the questions stated above. I came to the conclusion that the only impediment from these folks being loved was me. I would be what was standing in the way. They weren’t the problem. I was.
If I would be willing to say yes to Jesus but no to loving these folks, I would be what keeps God’s kingdom from moving forward. That is not a good realization.
I think this is true as well for the current socio-political debates happening around us. People are vilifying one another without regard to the Gospel at all, forgetting that loving one another means Christians with whom you disagree. Loving one another means the ‘least’, even if it means a brother or a sister.
Who is your least? Think deeply about this. Who is the one with whom you want nothing to do with? What does it look like to love the ‘least of these’ now? What could God do in and through you if you said yes to him in this?
I dare say that if Christians decided to love the ‘least’, even if it is one another, the world would be a better place for it.