The Least of These

Here’s part of what Jesus says in Matthew 25:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All 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. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

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. For 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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

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

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:31-40

“You did it for me.” You see? When you feed somebody who’s hungry, clothe somebody in need, visit somebody in prison, or help the hurting, the dying, the people that are in pain, Jesus says, “You have done that to me, because they are a part of me. Whether they live for me or not, they are still a part of me. I created them.”

image credit: chapelfield.org

image credit: chapelfield.org

God created man and woman in His own image. When He did that it was as if He said, “I’ve created you with me in you.”

You have the spirit of God inside of you. When you were in your mother’s womb, God said, “I created you in my own image. You are part of me. And though you may sin, and though you may fail, you will be fulfilled in me.”

Now think about that. If something created by you, a part of you, is under attack, you feel attacked. I mean, if you attacked my son, I would feel attacked. If you attacked my wife, I would feel attacked. And if you go up to my son and give him a hug and show him love and care, then that’s how you feel about me. I feel it.

We’re creations of the Almighty God, and I think He feels the same way. We are sons and daughters of Zion. We are part of His family. So when He sees someone that is hungry, He feels it. He is hungry.

That’s what He means when He says, “If you do this for the least of these, then you’ve done this for me.”

See you Monday.

Selfless

There’s no better way to reflect God’s love than by helping someone in need. Why is this the best way? Because you have to be selfless to help someone in need. You have to be like Jesus.

Jesus! When He came down, man, everything He did was selfless. He didn’t have to, but He served everybody! He didn’t have to do any of the things that He did when He came here. He didn’t even have to leave heaven. Coming down here was the ultimate selfless act.

Can you imagine what He must have been thinking? I’m sure it was something like this:

I have to come to this little planet here, and help these people? You’re telling me that I need to come here, to this place, where they’re going to deny me, persecute me, judge me, run me to the edge of cliffs, and basically try to kill me all the time? Uh, really? Fun times.

He knew how hard it was going to be, but He did it. It was a selfless act.

Because I think He also said this:

You know what? I love these people, man! They are the reason why God, my Father, created life. He created life for the purpose of relationship. And I’m going to go down there and fix that relationship. I’m going to restore it. I’m going to feed the hungry, and I’m going to set the captives free.

It feels good to feed the hungry. Ask these Whitworth University students, who spent a day packaging meals for the hungry.

He came to restore us to God. That’s where Matthew 25 comes in, because that’s where Jesus separates the sheep from the goats. You know how it goes: “When I was hungry, you fed me. When I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was in prison, you visited me.”

That is huge! Think about it. It’s so big! “When I was hungry, you fed me.”

We may not understand why there is hunger in the first place. I don’t think we can truly understand why, because it’s not our call. It’s God’s. But it doesn’t have to paralyze us, because we have a calling. We’re called to be selfless like Jesus.

Jesus was selfless to come here. He did it because He loves us, and He promises to remember every one of our selfless acts. He shows us the way. He shows us how to be selfless just like Him, and He inspires us to do it with love. “When I was hungry, you fed me.”

And here’s the greatest thing of all. When we’re selfless like Jesus, selfless out of love, we find fulfillment. Being selfless like Jesus brings the fulfillment that we crave. We may not even know we crave it, but we discover it. All we have to do is experience it.  Fulfillment in Jesus is exactly what our souls crave.

When you can say that you helped someone who was hungry by giving them something to eat, you’ll experience it. That’s when you’ll know.

See you Monday.

A Full Basket

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:15-16

You show me someone living in faith, based on the living Kingdom of God, and I’ll show you someone that’s happy and joyful. I’ll show you someone working to receive money to put in wells in places that don’t have clean water, and you will see the joy on that person’s face. And I will tell you, “That is faith with works.” This isn’t about performing in order to get into the Kingdom. This is about already being in the Kingdom, and thinking with that mindset. Someone like this doesn’t say, “I want to do that too, but I don’t have enough money just now.” Instead she says, “I’ll get another job and raise the money to be able to put in wells.” This is just what we do.

The money’s not going to drop down from heaven and land on your nose. God doesn’t expect you to have it already. But He’ll get it to you. God says, “You are in my family. This is who you are. Your neighbor needs your love. How are you going to get it done?”

loaves and fishesThink about Jesus feeding the five thousand. The disciples came to Him and said, “These people are hungry!” And Jesus said, “You feed them.” But they said, “We can’t feed all these people! We only have two loaves and a fish.” Then Jesus said, “Well, don’t tell them to go in the village to find food. They’re sitting here waiting. They want to hang out. They want to commune. I’ll feed them.” The disciples said, “How are you going to do that?” And Jesus said, “I’m going to do something flat-out amazing. That’s how.”

Now He was Jesus, so He worked a little differently than we do. He did a miracle. But he showed us that we don’t have to give up. We don’t just say, “Oh, that’s not much food. I guess we’re not feeding them!” That’s what the apostles were going to do. That’s what most people do. “Well, I don’t have the means to help, so I won’t.”

But Jesus says, figure out a way to get the means. Because He will provide, if you actually take that step.

Everything Jesus did reflected on how awesome God is. He figured out a way to feed multitudes of hungry people. And when He did that, He showed us how to get it done. It’s all about servant leadership. We go to God in love and we say, “Lord, people are hungry. People are sick. They don’t have any clean water. Children are homeless. They don’t have moms or dads. Someone is going to traffic them and put them in slavery.” And the Lord says, “Help them. You give them something to eat. You give them clean water. You find them homes and liberate and protect them.” And when we say, “But Lord, I can’t. I don’t have enough,” then He says, “You’re going to figure out a way. You’re going to figure out a way to get them what they need. You’re not going to tell them to go help themselves. You serve them.”

I don’t even know if the crowd knew what Jesus did that day. But the disciples knew. He told them, “Hey, just start passing the basket. It’ll stay full. It’ll stay full.” You know? And He fed them. And when He did that, they stayed and listened.

That’s walking in the Kingdom of God.

Living in the Family of God

I’ve had a lot to say lately about trusting that you are holy and righteous in the eyes of God. You don’t have to perform for God to be accepted by Him. He already accepts you. You can trust that, and live from it.

So what is the difference between performing for God, and acting as a representative of God’s Kingdom? When is helping the hungry, the homeless, or the enslaved a performance for God, and when is helping them the act of a holy and righteous child of God?

Being loved and accepted by God is your identity. Walk in it! His Spirit guides you to reflect His Kingdom in everything you do. Suppose you see a homeless person that needs money. You look at him, and the Spirit says, “Yes.” So you give him money. The Spirit of God, who lives within me, my encourager, counselor, and adviser, says, “I advise you, Jeremy, to give that guy money.”

Sometimes the Spirit says, “I’m advising you to not give that guy money. I know the heart of that man and I’m advising you not to do it.” Alright! So I walk by! I’ve walked by homeless guys and not given them money because I didn’t feel right about it at the time.

But my heart is always in it. I don’t walk past without giving money because I don’t want to. In the same way, I don’t give the guy money simply because I feel bad for him. Or, I don’t give him money because I’m thinking, “Oh, man, I did something bad yesterday. So I’m going to give this guy money so that I’ll feel good.” No, no. I give money when the Spirit tells me to. That’s who I am, and that’s who I want to be.

Performance is based on trying to make somebody like you. Right? We all perform at our jobs. It’s definitely true for professional athletes. An athlete’s performance pays the owners’ bills. If the fans don’t like you, they don’t come to the game. They come if they like your performance, and that’s how we get paid. So we have to perform.

That’s how we end up confusing performance with action. But there is a difference, and it lies in the heart. If I build a well for a village that needs clean water so that God will love me, He will frown on that. God looks at that and He says, “Jeremy! I love you. You are in my family! You should build a well because you come from my family, not in order to be in my family. You’re already here. The well that you want to build comes from the aroma and the environment that my Kingdom naturally provides, and you already live in that. Love, grace and mercy are a part of that and you reflect it. That’s my Kingdom.”

When you come from His Kingdom, and you see pain, you’re going to help. Jesus said, “I only do as my Father does. Forgive, because my Father forgives. Heal the sick, because my Father heals the sick. Turn water into wine, because my Father is the author of miracles, signs, and wonders. I’m going to take those who laugh and I will make their joy plentiful.”

That’s what God does!

More on this next time. See you Thursday.

Feed the Hungry and Be Fulfilled

We did not choose to be born in America. I could have been born in Uganda. Or I could have been born in Haiti. I respect that I was born in America.

But we weren’t born here because we’re lucky. We were born here because we are blessed.

We are blessed to be born in a country where we have freedom and prosperity. We are blessed to have the opportunities that freedom and prosperity make possible. I know some people think we’re not prosperous. We hear a lot of concern about the economic crisis. But unless you’re making less than four dollars a day, you’re making more money than 90% of people in the world make.

loaves and fishesI can guarantee that people in third world countries are not looking at us and saying “Oh, poor America.” They’re not doing that. We’re in economic crisis and they’re fighting to get here! Even if you’re homeless in America, you’ll find water that’s better than what they’re drinking in parts of Uganda! Maybe there are Ugandans or Haitians that say, “If I have to be homeless and all I can do is drink water, I might as well be homeless in America and drink good water. This water I’m drinking now is killing me.”

Thanks to our abundance, we have an opportunity to help. That’s why we’re so blessed. I think that God looks at all His children and says, “Those of you in this part of the world are doing very, very well. But there’s a part of Me over here that is not.” When you don’t help out with the part of God that is not doing all that well, you’re basically turning your back on Him. You’re saying, “You know what? I’ve got my own thing to do.” You’re becoming selfish. And selfishness is not of God.

Essentially, everybody has a broken spirit. Whether you are the richest man in the world or not, you still need the love of Jesus. You still need to be saved. You still need to have the blood of Jesus on your life. And when you share the love that is shared in feeding someone who is hungry, you have done the act of Jesus. That’s where Jesus says, “You have not only fed me, you have been me.” And I think that is so important to understand.

Jesus went to the people that were hungry. He took a couple of loaves and a few fish and He fed five thousand people who were hungry. And He did it for such a simple reason. He did it because they were hungry!

And when He was here, He said, “I am It. I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one gets to the Father except through me. I am Truth, and truth shall set you free.” And if you’re going to turn your back on Him, and you don’t care about the person that’s hungry, then your mind’s not in the right spot. You’re actually doing the exact opposite of what’s going to fulfill you.

Selfishness is very shallow. Pridefulness is very shallow. Making sure that you are taken care of is actually a shallow life. But when you take care of somebody else, you have created joy. You have put a smile on somebody else’s face. When you feed other people, you don’t feel hungry. Not at all. You are fulfilled. You don’t feel hungry because you didn’t need to be hungry. You were fulfilled by helping others who were hungry.

Taking care of somebody else will satisfy your soul. And I think that is the greatest thing ever.

Blessings to you. See you Thursday.

Giving Jesus Something to Eat

In a recent post about youth participation in our Something to Eat program, I wrote:

It really feels good to see people getting excited about feeding the hungry. The Gospel of Jesus Christ feels good. Our community is finding fulfillment because with every meal we package, we feed Jesus Christ Himself. Last weekend we packaged 175,000 meals. We fed Jesus Christ 175,000 times! Think about that!

I hope you’ve had a chance to think about that. I think about it a lot. Here’s part of what Jesus says in Matthew 25:

sheep from goatsWhen the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All 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. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

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. For 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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

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

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:31-40)

You see? When you feed somebody who’s hungry, when you clothe somebody in need, when you visit somebody in prison, or help the hurting,or  the dying, or people in pain, Jesus says, “You have done that to Me, because they are a part of Me. Whether they are living for Me or not, they’re still a part of Me. I created them.”

God created man and woman in His own image. When He did that it was as if He said, “I’ve created you with Me in you.”

You have a spirit of God inside of you. When you were in your mother’s womb, God said, “I created you in my own image. You are part of me. And though you may sin, and though you may fail, you will be fulfilled in me.”

Now think about that. If something you created or something that’s a part of you is under attack, you would feel attacked. If you attacked my son, I would feel like you were attacking a part of me. If you attacked my wife, you’d be attacking a part of me. And if you go up to my son and give him a hug and show him love and care, then that’s how you feel about me.

Since we are creations of the Almighty God, I think He feels the same way. We are sons and daughters of Zion. We are a part of His family. So when He sees someone that is hungry, He’s hungry. And when you feed someone who is hungry, you feed Him.

That’s what He means when He says, “If you do this for the least of these, then you’ve done this for Me.” You can donate one meal, or gather your friends together to donate more. Either way, you will do something amazingly fulfilling. You’ll feed Jesus Christ Himself. I’m telling you: the Gospel of Jesus Christ feels really good!

See you Monday.

Other People

God is a jealous God. Your relationship with Him is your number one priority. It is! And if you’re truly striving to have a relationship with God, then there will be a change in you. You will become a better human being.

But I think Christians are sometimes like this:

“I’ve got to make sure I read my Bible today, and I’ve got to make sure I take communion, and I’ve got to memorize my memory verse. Hey! That person just cut me off! Eff you!”

Or worse, they see other people, right in front of them, and their attitude is, “Hey, man, I don’t care about that person.” Continue reading