The Least Of These

dannyMatthew 25:40 “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

My brother-in-law, David, is probably one of the most eccentric people I’ve ever known; he’s also a great example of someone who sees the dignity and value of every individual. In our success-driven society I wonder if maybe it takes some eccentricity to step out of the mold and recognize the source of true human worth.

David excels in seeing Christ in the “least of these.” Everyone in the family loved Danny, the youngest of the siblings. But David had a special way of looking over the fact that Danny had Down syndrome. He painstakingly listened to Danny’s garbled speech and tried to make sure he understood every directive. When decisions had to be made, rather than just telling Danny what to do, David laid out the options and, if feasible, respected his choices. When their dad recently died, it was David who was beside him when he took his last breath. He maintained his father’s dignity—even in death—as he meticulously prepared his body for the undertaker.

Jesus’ entire life stamped a mark of dignity on all people…poor shepherds, common fishermen, women, children, thieves. He didn’t shy away from touching lepers…even ungrateful ones (Luke 17:17). He refused to join the legalists in condemning the sinful (John 8:4). His compassion extended to the hungry (Matthew 15:32), the self-seeking (Mark 10:21), and the unbelieving (Matthew 23:37).

Mother Theresa famously said if we’re to be with Jesus we must touch him in his “distressing disguise.” That “disguise” may take many forms: The disfigured. The poor. The annoying. The hurtful.  Maybe a spouse. A rebellious teenage son. A grumpy neighbor. When they look in our eyes will they see mirrored back the dignity due them as image bearers of Christ? Will they detect warmth, tenderness and acceptance?

I don’t know who the “least” in your life might be. But I pray that as you make the effort to find Christ in them, they will see Christ in you.

 

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