Jesus told a story about a crowd of people, standing before the throne of God, waiting for judgment.
God told one group, they would be banished from his Kingdom, because when he was hungry, they did not feed him. When he was thirsty, they did not give him a drink. When he was sick, they did not take care of him. When he was lonely, or in prison, they did not visit him.
God told another group, they would inherit from his Kingdom, because when he was hungry, they did feed him. When he was thirsty, they did give him a drink. When he was sick, they did take care of him. When he was lonely, or in prison, they did visit him.
And both groups asked him, when did any of this ever happen? (One woulds think that if an individual found the King hungry, and cooked a burger for him, one would remember.) And the God answered, "When you loved/served the least of my brothers, you loved/served me."
God makes loving and serving one another -- especially the least -- equivalent to loving and serving him.
But who are the least?
The helpless are part of the least. They can do nothing for you. They cannot repay, or reciprocate, for any kindness given to them.
Enemies are another part of the least. Someone who could reciprocate a kindness given, but if they had a choice, would give back evil.
Law breakers are also part of the least. They perform acts of rebellion against the order of their society. They promote a breakdown of peace and safety.
And in regard to the Kingdom of God, we are the least.
From the beginning, we were all intended to be part of God's Kingdom, God's family. The first people chose to live apart from God. They broke their allegiance to the Father, cast of their family ties, and lost their citizenship.
And we all begin in that state. We continue to break God's law. We defy God's rule, and are hindrances to his way. At times, we will deliberately choose to act in ways that advance the kingdom of the enemy. And when we wake up, and realize the emptiness of our lives and actions, we cannot change our hearts. We cannot change our standing before God.
A prime example of helplessness is a human infant. An infant cannot feed or protect itself. Unlike animals, who can walk within a short period of time, sometimes only hours after birth, an infant may take a year. The only reason infants survive is the almost obsessive devotion of their mothers.
We are helpless. We cannot restore our relationship with God. We cannot restore our design. We cannot fill our hearts with true fuel. So, our Father chooses to fil the role of mother, with the same devotion. He restored the relationship. He brought us back into the family. He fills our hearts with that true fuel.
If we break his law, we work against his Kingdom. We are rebels ... perhaps without conscious intention. But we live in ways that damage the effectiveness, the image, and the reputation of God's Kingdom.
We are least in the Kingdom. And God fed, clothed, cared for, and visited each of us. And God's standard is that the children imitate the Father.
Who are the least to us? That homeless man begging on the corner. That driver who cuts you off on the Interstate. Nowadays, maybe it is that man living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Whoever it is, God wants us to treat the least, like he treats the least.