Michelle Kirby is the Program Director for Learning Events such as the Journey 101 courses and Destination Resurrection at The Church of the Resurrection.
I often have the news on in the morning while I’m getting ready for work. I usually listen more than I watch—but one story I saw this week forced me to stop and watch. Perhaps you saw the story of a Cleveland cleaning woman, Cara Simmons, who was hired to clean a house for an upcoming party. What she didn’t realize was that the party was actually going to be for her.
This single mom had recently been hospitalized from exhaustion but still managed to continue working to provide for her family. Her friends thought she was deserving of a day off so they nominated her to be the recipient of a day of pampering.
When she got to the home she had been “hired” to clean, she discovered that instead of cleaning the home she got to enjoy a nice meal, a massage, and other displays of kindness. When it was revealed to her that she had been set up by her friends and family to receive this wonderful treatment for the day, she was so grateful to them. What even they didn’t realize though was that the group they had been working with, “Prank it Forward—pranks for good” had another surprise in store for her. They informed her that the house she had been hired to clean—where she had spent her day being indulged—was actually her home now, and the host handed her the keys. She was overwhelmed to say the least. (You can see the story here.)
While it was refreshing to see something so positive on the news it made me think about all of the people I know who quietly go about helping those in need. Not something any of us will see on the morning news.
I’m reminded of some of our Alpha leaders, Gerry Lewis, Brian Beach, Janet Mathis and so many others who go faithfully on Monday and Tuesday evenings to Lansing and Leavenworth prisons to spend time with prisoners, teaching them about and reminding them of God’s love and forgiveness.
I’m reminded of Bobbi Jo Reed and my friends at the Healing House who spend their personal money and time preparing for weeks, to be able to provide Christmas gifts and food for those who are living on the streets. They pray for the people they encounter and tell them of God’s love for them.
I think of my own small group members who faithfully go to Wheatley elementary each Wednesday to tutor children who are struggling to understand math or learn how to read, and I can’t help but be inspired by them.
All of these friends go about doing these things not because they have to, not out of a sense of guilt, and certainly not because they’re being paid. They also aren’t doing these things because they want to rack up more “service” hours. My friends do these things because it’s who they are. They are followers of Jesus and what breaks his heart, breaks their hearts. They are trying to do their part to put things to right.
I think of all of the people being served—the prisoners, the homeless, children and people in poverty, etc. They are exactly who Jesus is referring to in our Matthew passage today, “the least of these brothers and sisters of mine.” Jesus goes on to tell us in this parable, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Bible Scholar William Barclay had this to say about this passage. “This is one of the most vivid parables Jesus ever spoke, and the lesson is crystal clear—that God will judge us in accordance with our reaction to human need. His judgment does not depend on the knowledge we have amassed, or the fame that we have acquired, or the fortune that we have gained, but on the help that we have given.”
As I reflect on my friends and the ways that they respond to the human needs surrounding them, I’m both inspired and challenged. Jesus’ words remind me that when I’m living a life that responds to the needs around me, I not only have the opportunity to bless others but I have an even greater opportunity to bless my King.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.