This middle post on Phase 3 in Jen Hatmaker's book 'Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity' is an interesting one. She talks about whether simply serving the poor is enough, and then how difficult it can be to "get it right" (for lack of a better way to put it).
On p. 108 is this somewhat enlightening thinking (to me):
Jesus' identification with the least is the cornerstone of this parable (Luke 10:25-37). He tells of the day when the righteous will stand before Him, surprised at the credit they're receiving for caring. A popular interpretation exists wherein people who didn't know Jesus and certainly were not motivated by His kingdom will be welcomed as righteous simply for their attention to the least.
While my soft side loves that concept, I don't buy it. Many will stand before Jesus one day, clutching good works in their hands, but they will leave His presence because they never loved Him. If we've learned anything from the rebellious nation of Israel, the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the meager offerings of the poor in Scripture, it is this: God is supremely concerned with our motives, and our works count only when they match our intentions. There is no back door into salvation, rerouted around the sacrifice of Christ. Otherwise, the whole earth could gain heaven by good works, and His day on the cross would be pointless.
Jesus was describing the moment when His followers, His beloved sons and daughters, will stand before Him.
Of course we loved the poor, Jesus. You told us to. Of course we opened our homes and invited the lonely in. That was clear in the Word. Of course we clothed the naked children and fed starving people. They are human beings made in Your image. We took care of the least in obedience to You, Jesus, but we never had the privilege of actually serving You.
We did all that FOR You.
But Jesus will say, no, you did that UNTO Me."
Wow... that's a lotta stuff right there. A lotta subtle differences. A lotta meat to chew on. I think I'll just leave it there without comment...
However, to expand on the last part of the previous, as Jen says on p. 109:
"We have the privilege of serving Jesus Himself every time we feed a hungry belly, each moment we give dignity to someone who has none left, when we acknowledge the value of a convict because he is a human being, when we share our extreme excess with those who have nothing, when we love the forsaken and remember the forgotten. Jesus is there."
Yes, that is some humbling stuff. Makes one want to reconsider donating worn out clothes and no-longer-wanted items to the poor. Is that what we would do if we knew it was Jesus we were giving to??
I like this next part, where Jen talks about beginning to change our perspective on the poor:
"To say we were awkward and weird would be a kind understatement. Because my experience with poor people was limited, I placed the emphasis on poor but misunderstood the essential part: people. Which is the polar opposite perspective. When they were 'poor' to me, then I was the benevolent, hyperfriendly white girl who had a hard time entering into a real conversation. The emphasis was on what I was offering: food, gloves, water, a bus pass. What I saw in them was NEED, so that is what I addressed. You require something; I'm here to deliver it with my White Savior Complex solidly in hand.
This is an okay place to start, but here is where that 'Jesus did it for me' thing came in. I started noticing not so much their need but their humanity. I realized these were daddies and sisters and lost sons and daughters. They had stories and dreams. Their wallets were full of pictures, and their histories were full of heartache. They were funny and wildly talented.
I am no Savior; I am just a sister."
Now THAT is some good, eye-opening stuff right there. Man... I probably need to take a month and start my day by re-reading that each morning. Whew...
I think it's impossible for "entitled" people to comprehend the perspective of those we believe we are serving - the poor. Which leads into the next post. That's all for now - I'm worn out.