“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” Matthew 25:40
I have always struggled with this verse and with the concept of “see Jesus in everyone” that I heard in Baptist churches growing up.
I got to thinking about this concept today. I’m not sure if I read this verse somewhere recently or if it just popped in my head. The kids at daycare were going to sleep, and I thought, “How do you see everyone as Jesus?”
That’s hard. Because there are a whole lot of people in this world who are nowhere even close to being like Jesus. It’s easy to be nice and kind to people who are nice and kind to you. But how do I tend to respond to people who don’t treat me that way? People who call me out for the slightest mistake, or shove their responsibility onto me at work, or get mad at me for doing my job? People who talk about me behind my back? (Not saying any of this has happened recently – but it has before.) Or, as was the case today, kids who are mean to their friends? Or even a kid who won’t go to sleep at nap time?
I get frustrated. I get angry. I react harshly. I raise my voice, which raises my blood pressure. I let angry words escape me and express how I feel. “Anger” is one letter short of “danger.” One time in the not so distant past, that very thing – dangerous anger – put my and my dear friend’s life in danger.
We have a child with special needs in our class. We’ll call her Emily. Some days she goes to sleep on her own. Some days she needs someone to pat her to sleep. Some days Emily doesn’t sleep at all, and she isn’t the type to just lay there quietly either. She wiggles, laughs, squirms and babbles the whole time she’s awake. After a while, if it’s clear that she has no intention of going to sleep, we’ll put Emily in her high chair and let her look at a book or color while the other children sleep.
Today, I sat down by Emily when she wasn’t sleeping, patted her, rocked her, and then she started hugging my arm and smiling. For the next hour, she lay there on her mat, and held onto me. She never slept, but she was very calm, almost peaceful. I patted her, rocked her a little more, talked to her a little, and just kept her company.
It would have been so easy to get frustrated with Emily for not sleeping. I could have given up and just put her in the high chair and went on about my business at nap time.
I just decided to treat her like I would have treated Jesus if He were sleepless, too.
I wonder if He would have done the same for me.