Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Who Is The Least?

"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.'" Matt. 25:45 NIV (emphasis mine.)

A lesson from Ted Dekker's excellent devotional, The Forgotten Way, captured my attention.

"Yeshua did not say, 'What you do to the least you do as if to me.' He said, 'What you do to the least you do to me.' As if He was, in some mysterious way, them." pg. 171.

Dekker explains that in Jesus' day poverty and sickness were considered direct results of someone's sin. Questioned by His disciples for the real reason behind a man's blindness Jesus responded. "Neither this man nor his parents sinned..." John 9:3.

To His audience, Jesus' identification with this element of society was "shocking and scandalous." The Forgotten Way, pg. 171.

In spite of his education, impressive credentials and pedigree, the Apostle Paul ranked himself as the least of the least. Categorizing himself as the chief of all  sinners in 1 Tim. 1:16. Paul wasn't alone. We're right there with him.

So the question is, as members of Christ's body, one with and in Him, "How do we mistreat Jesus when we mistreat ourselves and others?"

Our seamless integration with Christ as believers is a position we're largely ignorant of. Dekker writes that our union with Christ is a mystery that escapes our comprehension.

Westerners typically operate in rational, logical mindsets. Paradoxes, especially those of a Biblical kind, are very disturbing. The Oriental mind embraces these more readily, content to live with questions having no easy answers. In the West, we tend to ignore the unexplainable.

How we treat people (ourselves included), especially those we dislike/hate (ourselves included) has a direct bearing on Jesus, either good or bad. Therefore, how quickly should we be to level condemnation against anyone (ourselves included). Do we really wish to subject Jesus to additional abuse? That was the question Saul of Tarsus had to wrestle with.

"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" Acts 9:4 (emphasis mine). Jesus had a question that demanded an answer.

Our indwelling Christ is love in its purest essence. We are without excuse. We're already equipped to exercise His love to others and to ourselves. Let's give Jesus the break He so richly deserves.

When this is posted, the U.S. will be in the final throes of a presidential election. Already there is much rhetoric and behavior on both sides that has been less than Presidential. (If you think this is bad, you should check out the founding fathers). Not only are the candidates responsible for this. The media and the public have contributed their fair share also.

Stop. Think. Remember.

Jesus didn't reduce the scope of the least to include only those with shared ideologies and beliefs. We should be more careful of our words and actions when the one we hurt is Christ Himself. None of us really know the true condition of anyone's heart (ourselves included), which is what God looks at.

Believers need to act/react with the love of God. Is it easy or fun, most of the time? No. As His body we should shift our focus off of doing things for Him and being Him to others.

How about you? How would you describe your union (being one with) Christ? How does this change any possible misconceptions that Christ is far off in Heaven as opposed to living in you personally? How do the words of Jesus concerning our treatment of others, and its impact on Him, cause you to reassess the way you speak and act toward those you deem the least?

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