40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. -Matthew 25:40, KJV
Today I had the pleasure of getting to see my former collegiate choral group sing at a church near home. I had never attended the church, but was excited to branch out and hear the songs of the group.
Cookie & I arrived at the church about 30 minutes early, took a seat midway through the sanctuary, and waited for the concert to begin. About 10 minutes later, a homeless man entered the church, brought all of his belongings and placed them in a pew, then walked out of the sanctuary briefly. Immediately members of the church (not the visitors) began gasping, staring, and literally snarling their noses. A man who greeted Cookie and I, yes the greeter of the church, walked up to another member of the church and said, "Where did your friend go? I'm going to leave him for you to take care of." The man in the pew got up and the homeless man came back to his pew a few moments later.
The women sitting in front of me began saying how the homeless man was a frequent visitor of the church. They then had the audacity to say that they didn't want him there. That he smelled. That when he came to the church he kept other visitors from wanting to come back. (Oh really? Because your reaction to him being there is more like to keep me from coming back.) If he got near them in proximity they jerked away from him in disgust.
These "Christians" on their high horses were so appalling. This man was in a house of GOD and they were passing judgment on his situation. He was there to worship and they had the nerve to ask him to leave. I am so glad that he chose to stay. When the congregation was invited to sing he sang loudly and off key. And my heart was blessed. I couldn't help but smile knowing that this man's heart and spirit for God was not broken despite how these "Christians" put him down and degraded his situation.
Cookie and I reached out to him and talked to him briefly. In that hour and a half, we were friends. I hope the warmth and acceptance radiated to him and that he was able to receive the blessing he was searching for.
Matthew 25:40 says that whatever you do unto the least of these you do unto the Father. I can't help but wonder if the members of this church who call themselves Christians have ever really read that verse, or the entire 25th chapter of Matthew for that matter. If so, I hope they were reminded of these words when they saw Cookie and myself offer kindness and acceptance to this man.
Gandhi once said, "I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians; they are so unlike your Christ." Indeed. My goal in life is not to be a Christian. My life seeks to be Christ-like...and today I was reminded how different these two words are. Christians are human, are fallible, and they pass judgment. I do not know the homeless man's story, nor do I know his name. But I do want to thank him for the lesson he taught me today.... At the end of my life's journey I want my father to say "Well done, good and faithful servant." and I want to have left a legacy of loving, even the least of these....