Love to the Least, the Last and the Lost
As a board member of the Alpine Community Center in Alpine, Texas, I am, from time to time, called on to "fill-in" for teachers while they have a quiet lunch away from the center. Several months ago, I filled in for several hours by taking care of the babies. I fed, changed diapers, rocked and sang to those precious babies nonstop for those hours. It was pure joy to see them smile. I often felt like I was looking into the face of God when they looked at me, their eyes filled with love and trust.
In the reading from Matthew today Jesus tells us that children are precious in God’s sight and we should not lose even one of them. Jesus says, "Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. ... So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost." (Matthew 18:10-11, 14)
If we look at these verses we see that the "little ones" are not only the children but those who are new to the faith. We might call them "baby Christians." We know that children need emotional and physical nurture. We have to assume that baby Christians need as much emotional and spiritual nurture as do children.
What should our attitude be toward these who are immature in faith? I believe that Jesus would have us show them the greatest consideration and that we do so without condescension. Perhaps the greatest consideration we can give them is our own example.
During this Lenten season each of us is called to another look, a deeper examination of our own lives. Are we living our own lives of discipleship in such a way that we are not creating stumbling blocks for these "little ones?"
Think about those who nurtured you. Was it a parent, a grandparent, a teacher or a friend? When we consider those who nurtured us then we can ask how can we as individuals and as Christian communities respond with love to the least, the last and the lost so that we are not a stumbling block for others.
Jesus has given us our marching order: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations," (Matthew 28:19), and The United Methodist Church has added "for the transformation of the world." This includes the children in our lives but also those we meet who are new Christians, those who are searching, and those who are marginalized. How have you shined the light of Christ today?
Lord, help me to shine the light of Christ on all that I see today. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.