” ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 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.’ ”
Many of us are familiar with this passage where Jesus is speaking to His disciples. It is one of the fundamental tenets of Christianity — serving others in Jesus’ name. And it’s something that’s fairly easy to see when we’re doing the kind of work indicated in the passage. Feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, going into the prisons.
There’s one place though that it might not be so easy to see the least of these. That place would be in our own churches, the people sitting next to us. Now, the question might be asked. How are the people sitting next to us the “least of these”? They don’t look like they’re hungry; they don’t look like their sick; they are generally wearing clothes (and if they’re not, your church might have a whole other set of problems, lol). All kidding aside though, the people sitting next to us might need someone to say, “I love you,” to say, “Jesus loves you,” or to just give them a hug. Sometimes I think we take it for granted that the people who sit in our churches don’t need to hear this spoken out loud. But, they do. They most certainly do. It might be the only hug they get that week; the only interaction they get with someone who truly cares; or the only indication that they’re not alone.
See, this has happened to me. I have been in churches where no one has interacted with me during the whole service, where I have felt overwhelmed by pain. I know God loves me, but to hear it spoken by fellow Christians helps me to know I’m not alone. It’s part of being the hands and feet of Jesus, of letting others see Jesus in you. And I’m just as guilty as anyone else. I will go into my church, go to where I usually sit, and not interact with anyone during the whole service. Or if I interact with people, it will be the customary greetings of “Hi, how are you?” and not make a point of expressing how I really feel. I want to be different. I don’t want to be a passive participant. I want to look at the people around me and show Jesus’ love to them, by word and by hug, and to let them know they’re not alone.
I will end with the lyrics to this song by Kari Jobe. It is a song that has touched me to the very core this week and helped me to realize I’m not alone.
“When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear
I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me
In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear
You amaze me
You call me as Your own
You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul”
God’s blessings on you today!