Monday, February 08, 2010

The Biblical Reference To "The Least Of These"

Anyone who follows my views knows that the concept of "The Least Of These" burns my craw when I hear someone make the case that this is what has motivated them into action.

The following passage contains the biblical reference from which it is taken:

Matthew 25:31-46 (New International Version)

The Sheep and the Goats
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For 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, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I 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.'

44"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?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

I could discard the "Fire and Brimstone" part of this passage by making note that generally my more "progressive Christian" friends don't typically buy into the "God as a Punisher" meme. That would be a cop out.

Instead I plan to read in this passage, apply my own "Christian understanding" to it and then challenge anyone who reads this to apply it to the real world condition in which we live AND the notion that "God made us all in his image".

Thus my point. If we base our argument upon the notion that God has made the human being with a certain set of competencies then, in my opinion, the challenge of the Christian as part of his "Fisher of Men" project is to build up that person so that he can live at the heights of his own full potential, subordinating himself only to God.

In my view from years of observation - those who take up the sword of "The Least Of These" are are far too often inclined to seek to extend the length of their own "soup line" instead of removing themselves as the middle man who stands as a broker between the "Least Of These" and their own full potential.

The goal of such a person should be one where he indeed sees a person in need and actively helps him back on his feet. A necessary part of this effort is to have some reference to the "Christian Walk" and to insure that this person is walking as close to it as possible. At times this means being "judgemental". If a person has problems in maintaining a job then the fifth of Jack Daniels that is stuck in his pocket as he waits in the soup line must be a topic of discussion for those who purport to help him. The true measure of a loving relationship is in telling the person what he needs to hear rather than what he wants to hear. Of course we should do it as sensibly and sensitively as possible.

Thus my challenge with those who practice "the least of these" is that they emmphasize "feeding" over "competency development" among these masses. You get no argument from me about the importance of history. At the same time those who have expert knowledge of the damage that history has done as our present day people have received the baton in the hand-off they would be wise to focus upon correcting the outcomes today so that tomorrow would have a different outcome.

1 comment:

BigmacInPittsburgh said...

One thing I resent more then anything is do-gooders who come into my community during Thanksgiving and Christmas to bring cheer and gifts once a year.And you don't see them for another year.