September 1, 2014
Have You Done It Unto Me?
In the United States, over two-thirds of the population are overweight and almost one-third is considered obese, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the years 2001-2004. Living with over-abundance, we are barraged by diet fads to shed extra pounds.
Yet, researchers for Bread For The World and the World Food Program estimate that every day 16,000 to 24,000 children die from hunger related causes. In 2004, almost one billion people lived below the international poverty line, earning less than one dollar per day.
When you travel through developing nations and witness poverty firsthand you cannot help but feel compassion for the masses that struggle for survival every day.
Jesus’s parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 becomes a reality as you look into the faces of the children of poverty. In the final judgment, the Son of Man holds court over all the nations. Notice as you read this passage that Jesus defines righteous living in terms of acts of justice and kindness done to the least of these.
Jesus says to the sheep on his right: “Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me” (Matthew 25:34-36). The sheep are astonished that they are counted among the righteous, based on this definition, for they never saw Jesus hungry or thirsty, as a stranger or naked, sick or in prison.
But Jesus answers them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). What a surprise to find that righteousness categorically involves acts of mercy, kindness, and protection for the least of these among us.
In the bleak, gaunt, ravaged expressions of malnourishment and hunger, we encounter Christ himself, the way, the truth, and the life. We are given the opportunity to minister to Jesus himself in the plight of the least of these among us.
What do world hunger, poverty, illness and despair have to do with righteousness? What do they have to do with Jesus? According to Matthew’s Gospel, they are the vehicles for a revelatory encounter with Jesus, unto whom we minister through acts of mercy, kindness, and justice. Our abundance should be the means of blessing others. We are given the blessing of ministering to our Lord and seeing in the faces of the impoverished, the face of Jesus.
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