I had never been so close before. It’s amazing really. I have gone 29 years of life without ever having had so much as the opportunity to give someone something off of my own body. If you think of all of the need in the world, it is quite remarkable how insulated I have been from it that this opportunity would never have presented itself before.
I was hungry and you gave me food.
I was thirsty and you gave me drink.
I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
I was naked and you clothed me.
I was sick and you visited me.
I was in prison and you came to me.
Six simple phrases.
How can we give the hungry food unless we know the hungry?
Jesus goes on to compare those who give him food to those who do not. In Matthew 25, he separates sheep (those who feed him) from the goats. He says to the goats: “I was hungry and you gave me no food.”
the "replacement" shoes -- maybe someone else will be wearing them soon?
He does not say, “Since you lived in an insulated world and never personally knew anyone who was hungry, you’re good to go.” As if to say, “So long as you’re not close enough to the need you won’t be held accountable for it.”
I think this is what I thought. I think I thought that as long as I didn’t know about it, as long as I wore nice clothes, and lived in a nice house, and just heard about the need distantly, I would be good to go.
So it is wildly convicting and simultaneously life-giving to have gotten so close. It is wildly and gently convicting because I really cannot believe I have never been that close before. It is life-giving because to give someone with naked feet “clothes” for their feet is like the most amazing thing I have ever gotten to do.
Surely Jesus knows this. Surely Jesus tells us these six simple statements because he knows that when we get close enough—when we go to those in prison, when we visit the sick, when we welcome strangers—something marvelous will happen to us. He will act upon us. We get to leave the world of thinking and theological speculation and rather experience the incarnate Word of God come to life in our bodies. Surely Jesus knew that this sort of life would radically transform us. We would never be the same. So he invites us into this life.
Oh, let us go to the poor!
Let us welcome the stranger!
Let us visit those in prison!
Let us no longer insulate ourselves from those whom our society forgets, but let us leave our comfort and go to them. Jesus says that we get him when we do. Whatever we do unto the least of these, we do unto him! WE GET JESUS in these acts!
Surely Jesus was present as “Paul” and I traded shoes that day! Surely he is Who acted on me in an indescribable, transformative way, leaving me hungry for more, and wild-eyed to see what he plans to do through simple acts of obedience, of leaving my comfort for the need.