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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Least of These

A few years back, I read a great book called “Jesus in the Margins: Finding God in the Places We Ignore” by Rick McKinley. One of the points of the book was that Jesus spent His life on earth in the margins—seeking out people who lived in the margins. As I read the gospels, it truly does amaze me to think that the God of the Universe spent a lot of His time giving one-on-one attention to people whom many might describe as outcastes, nobodies, insignificant, powerless, uninteresting, unsavory, and basically a waste of time, energy, and resources—especially for an important person like Jesus! And yet we see Jesus investing in a group of humble fishermen who were sometimes pretty slow and sometimes even disloyal to Jesus. We see Jesus reaching out to people who were suffering from sickness, disease, pain, and demon oppression in a society where these types of suffering were often presumed to be a punishment for some wrong committed by the ones who suffered them. In the Beatitudes, we hear Jesus called “blessed” those who mourn, those who are poor in spirit, those who are meek, those who are persecuted, etc. We see Jesus speak to and heal a leper, who was quite literally an outcaste in society. We see Jesus talk to and help women, even though women were like second class citizens compared to men. We see Jesus reach out to a Samaritan woman who was despised due to racism and due to her promiscuity. We see Jesus reach out to a woman caught in adultery and we see him stand up for her publicly, even though it probably created a lot of enemies for him. We see Jesus encourage children to come to him, even though others tried to keep the children from “bothering” an important man like Jesus. We see Jesus seek out an unpopular cheating tax collector who was hanging out in a tree. The list goes on and on. We see Jesus, the most important man who ever lived, invest his time, attention, and resources in people who were deemed unworthy by the rest of the world.
It is truly humbling to think about who Jesus interacted with and how.

It is so much easier for me to invest in, notice, listen to, and help people who love me, people who are pleasant, people who are popular, people who entertain me, people who are like me, people who can give me something, or people who can help me accomplish something (even many good things)! But Jesus calls me to so much more than this. When the opportunities come, Lord Jesus, don’t let me be too “busy” (read “self important” or “lazy” or “selfish” or “distracted by the wrong things”) to notice and obey in love!

Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

Galatians 6: 9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Proverbs 3 27-28 “ Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it’—when you have it with you.”

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