We’ve done it, haven’t we. We’ve sat in church, a silent bloody wreck inside. We’ve preached deliverance as something we would actually have the guts to reach for. We’ve claimed God provides but we’ve clutched our wallets and pinched every cent. We’ve spoken about good news but live as if it’s a fairy tale.
We’ve also gone out (if we can step past the church walls far enough) to serve “the least of these”.
The least. Who exactly are the “least”? We’ve seen it portrayed as many things, right? Are they the women in Africa wildly singing and dancing their hearts out with growling bellies and swollen feet? Are they the women fighting for their lives in brothels? Are they the single dad crying himself to sleep at night because of the fear and anxiety and pressure? Are they the pastor of a church who claims to love Jesus but can’t stop preaching damnation long enough to accept the depth of God’s love and grace? Is it me? Is it you?
Yea, I think so. Maybe.
A year ago, I was in a college group with over 50 women and we had a married couple come speak. After awhile we all split up guys and girls and the woman said, “Ask me literally anything you want.” Knowing the boy-crazy girls that I love so dearly I was waiting for a slew of relationship questions. To my biggest surprise, the question that was repeated in various forms over and over from the lips of at least a dozen girls was about loneliness. Almost everyone there, in a room of over 50 girls, felt desperately lonely. How ironic. How wild. We all sat in a room of multiple women feeling singularly lonely. Were we the least then?
Maybe when God says “love your neighbor” it doesn’t mean falling all over yourself to fulfill duties and laws. Maybe it doesn’t look like a check list of duties.
Feed the hungry, check.
Donate a coat, check.
Lead worship in a church, check.
Maybe it looks like hugging someone. Holding a baby. Changing the way you speak about a people group. Changing the negative habits that hinder you from giving and receiving love. Bringing water to the tent community in town and sitting down for a chat, weekly. Going to a strip club with the sole purpose of showing the women that they are loved no matter what choices they make and we will never call them the names they’ve been called in the past.* Maybe it’s about getting to know people more deeply and living life on the same level.
Maybe all of us are “the least” and maybe because we all are the least, maybe none of us are. Maybe because we are all the least, we are actually all the greatest. What a beautiful paradox.
In love, God pursues us all to full renewal and life. He is reckless and relentless in His pursuit and no one is safe from His wild rushing wind and heartbeat.
Romans 8:37-39 “Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. For I am persuaded beyond doubt that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
*If you ever want to go into a club with the idea that you are serving the least of these, DO NOT GO. But feel free to talk to me before you do decide to go and we can have a heartfelt discussion about how much God LOVES over coffee. **
** Coffee means hanging out or Skyping.