“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fireprepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. ” Matthew 25:41-46
Have you seen the reality show, Undercover Boss yet? I have not, but I think the concept is brilliant. What could be more entertaining than seeing a bad employee treat someone badly who turns out to be the CEO of their company? It’s one of those concepts that makes you stop and imagine…the horror!
Jesus was pretty good at coming up with those concepts as well. There were times when you just know the disciples sat speechless, looking at one another…in horror. I think the passage above is one of those times. I think when Jesus spoke these words, all of the disciples’ minds went to the exact same place yours and mine do…to that homeless man or woman in the street earlier today with whom we would not make eye contact, because we just did not want to speak to them or otherwise get involved with them.
Our minds go there because we are very, very uncomfortable with the notion that Jesus Himself may have been living in that man or woman and waiting for us to do something that more closely resembles a Christ-like response. The founder of the very revolution which you and I claim to be fighting for was IN THAT PERSON waiting and watching to see if this revolution really means anything to us at all.
The fact that you and I may actually be judged by our willingness to find Christ in otherwise unappealing people…to find Christ in that person with whom we disagree so strongly…to find Christ in that person whose needs are so very overwhelming to us…to find Christ in even the ugliest or most annoying of people…that fact mortifies us. Jesus is good at that.
The opportunity to find Christ in someone presents itself pretty much every day of our lives. Without engaging here in the debate over who exactly “one of the least of these” includes, I think you will agree that it at least includes some of the very people you or I will encounter today. Consider now that, according to Jesus, our response to that encounter will be remembered in Heaven. Forever. Yikes!
Can you even imagine the episodes of Undercover Boss that play in Heaven? Are you at all worried about the videos that will play of you or me ignoring a brother or sister in whom Christ resides?
I worry about that.
A lot, actually.