Just prior to being introduced as the new head pastor of a mega-church, a pastor disguises himself as a homeless person, and walks around his soon-to-be church, as people began filing in.
Very few of those entering the mega-church that day, acknowledged him with a greeting, as they would to other parishioners (you know – “May the peace of Christ be with you” or maybe “good morning“.)
When asking for change to buy food, no one responded with anything other than blind stares.
When entering the church, he greeted those in attendance, only to be responded to with silence, as though they were looking at an object.
He walked down to the front of the sanctuary to sit, only to be escorted to the back, where he awaited the introduction of the new pastor.
When the new pastor was introduced to the congregation, they looked around and clapped with joyful anticipation, only to see the transformed pastor walk down the aisle.
All clapping stopped.
When reaching the front of the sanctuary, the pastor stood silent for a moment, and then began to recite a passage entitled “The Sheep and The Goats” or the “Judgment of the Nations”, which is part of the discourse given by Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 25:31-46 The passage ended with this verse:
“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.” (a verse that was one of Mother Teresa’s favorite passages in the Bible and foundational to her ministry to the poor).
Looking at the congregation, he began to share what he had experienced that morning, during which some cried, or lowered their heads in shame.
He closed the service by sharing what he saw as a gathering of people, and not a church of Jesus Christ – concluding that the world around us has enough people, but lacks true disciples of Christ.
The discourse mentioned in the above allegory, was an admonishment that we will be judged by what we have or have not done to help those in need – the least of these.
By failing to help others in need, we fail to do the will of God.
Pope Francis has characterized the plea of the impoverished around the world, as a “cry.”
“Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry. We all have to think if we can become a little poorer, all of us have to do this”
There are those who claim the title Christian (a claim that should suggest knowing the red-letter Jesus, whose words are denoted by red letters in some bibles), who have been spiritually blinded by callousness of heart, to the plight of those who are impoverished, or those who because of persecution, war or violence, are forced to flee their country.
They become like one who gets washed off a pier by an unexpected wave – the pier being the Rock, and the wave being any apostasy that takes you out of the will of God.
Their perception of Christianity is subverted by a heretical gospel, that attempts to imbue [saturate] Christianity with a political ideology that is either irrelevant or antithetical to the immutable [unchanging] precepts of Jesus – where the least of these are objectified instead of cared for.
“Every person is, and always remains, a human being, and is to be treated as such. The sick and those who are disabled, even severely, have their own inalienable dignity and mission in life. They never become simply objects.” – Pope Francis
It’s as though they are looking through progressive bi-focal lenses, that can seamlessly switch from Christ himself, to political ideology – where looking through one lens blurs the other.
Christianity has been undermined and corrupted by deceptive heresies throughout the centuries, as evidenced in the writings of J.C. Ryle, a 19th Century writer and Anglican bishop.
“Myriads of professing Christians nowadays seem utterly unable to distinguish things that differ. Like people afflicted with color-blindness, they are incapable of discerning what is true and what is false, what is sound and what is unsound.”
Maybe it’s time for us who claim the title of Christian, to take a spiritual “selfie” that images the kind of Christian we truly are.
Those who seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, should believe that those red letters are immutable, and that Jesus really did mean what he said.
then and now.