“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40
I grew up in the Protestant church (UCC/Presbyterian). I worked at Presbyterian youth camps as a young adult. I even attended a Presbyterian seminary with the idea of being a youth or social worker.
In the end, I had to admit my utter and complete lack of belief in God was an impediment to an effective and fulfilling career.
More than that – I didn’t want to be associated with, or to in any way promote, what the public face of Christianity was becoming in those years – an Evangelical wasteland that denies critical thought in favor of groveling before a supreme Lord whose only concern is whether you believe Christ is your personal savior.
But I’ve always found Jesus of Nazareth – the human, not the putative deity – to have interesting things to say.
“Love your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you.” Maybe I can’t LIVE that, but it’s challenging just the same.
The Least of These
During the 2018 immigration crisis (a crisis of heart, not of law), I’m reminded that I am an immigrant – I immigrated from a racist, homophobic hellhole in the lower Midwest to the marginally more enlightened coast. Thank God for that!
I’m also reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
And its partner in 25:45: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
That seems pretty straightforward, if you ask me.
Add to that the nearby words from 25:41: “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” – and I’d be a bit concerned about how I treat “the least of these.”
It certainly makes me examine my own life, even if I don’t believe in a final judgment.
I’ve seen some comments from conservatives saying in effect, “When Jesus said that, he didn’t mean illegal immigrants!”
To which I answer: “I hope you plan to die at the same moment as your lawyer – because you’re going to need him when you get to the pearly gates.”
I also recall Jesus’ words: “Judge not, that you not be judged.”
My answer: “Thanks for the warning – I’ll take the risk!”