At a church staff devotional the other day, a colleague read the passage from the 25th chapter of Matthew about the separating of the sheep and the goats, and about how we minister to Jesus Christ himself in serving the hungry, thirsty, naked or imprisoned. As always, I was struck by the directness and utter clarity of Jesus’ words: “Truly, I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these . . . you did it to me.”
There is something unmistakable about Jesus’ notion of what his followers ought to be doing, and about the priority he assigns to ministries of compassion, healing and justice. “Ignore this at your peril,” he seems to be saying. The small group of church staff assembled that morning agreed that we had just been given our marching orders for the day.