“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
This passage has long been the one that shows us that if we want to share the love of Jesus, we need to see the “least of these” and recognize that they are Christ’s presence on earth just as we are. When we serve them, we are indeed serving Christ himself.
It’s easy to see the hungry and thirsty and to recognize the stranger – those are literal needs that we can encounter daily. But outside of clothes drives and donating coats on Palm Sunday or at Christmas, do we really think much about what Jesus may have meant when he asked us to clothe the naked? Even when we offer clothes, we’re usually offering better ones to those who may not have good ones, not truly clothing people who are actually without clothes.
But maybe that particular need is more than just a literal one. Is it possible that “naked” could mean not just unclothed but vulnerable?
Do people who are vulnerable because they are unloved or even hated by our society because of their race, religion, health status, mental disability, or veteran status also need us to come alongside them and offer to “cover” them?
Just as we might be uncomfortable with the word naked (especially as a theme for camp), we also find ourselves uncomfortable with the least of these who probably fall into that broadly defined category. And we resist being willing to be vulnerable ourselves.
But just as Christ called us to give the hungry and thirsty something to eat and drink and to invite the stranger to the table, we must also be willing to see the vulnerable and offer what protection we can.
We are Christ’s hands and feet in the world. And the world is waiting for us.
Who are the vulnerable in your community? What does it look like to “cover” or “clothe” them? How can you embrace your own vulnerability and rely on the strength of Christ and the community God offers us to carry you through that?
God who sends us and walks with us, help me to see the places where I can live out the example you have given me in Christ.