“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:40, ESV)
I think that I just didn’t want to see. My eyes were open, but I wore blinders. I did my level best to keep my eyes focused on pleasantries. Poverty is unpleasant—an “inconvenient truth.”
Committing to go to Guatemala was a game changer. I couldn’t keep my blinders on. The prevalence of poverty was overwhelming…and undeniable.
As I have blogged about my experiences, I have spent a lot of time reflecting. How have my experiences in Guatemala changed me?
I’ve always heard people say that a mission trip such as mine changes you. But the reality is that it really only changes you if you are mindful and intentional about it. We can see things on mission trips that make us rethink our worldview. We can—and should—question everything inside of us that has always been overlooked, things that have valued our comfortable Western-World lives above the things we tried to blissfully ignore.
I am not a fool. I did know that poverty and need are a reality for far more people than our comfort will acknowledge. So I had to ask myself, “What changes will I undertake in light of what I have seen?” Because, if I am not intentional about growth, the experiences I had in Guatemala will all too quickly be forgotten. I will have simply eased my conscience for a while and slipped back into my comfort and denial.
I was pondering these things recently, and remembered Matthew 25. “The least of these my brothers…” This time I looked at it with different eyes. Yes, we built a house for a needy family. We provided for them to have clean drinking water. But as the family prepared a meal for our large group—refusing to feed themselves until we had all eaten or fill—I no longer saw them as “least.” Perhaps they had the least. But, for me, the distinction had been removed. And, quite contrarily, I saw myself as the least.
Mark 9:35 came to mind as I considered these things. “And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all’” (ESV). Western thinking runs counter to this. We serve because they need us. But the truth of the matter is that we need them. We need to learn that we don’t serve because we are somehow better. Those who are served are better.
The boss doesn’t get coffee for his administrative assistant, and he doesn’t take messages for his administrative assistant. It’s the other way around!
Matthew 25:40 and Mark 9:35 inform us that when we make ourselves servants, when we give of our time and resources, we are positioning ourselves right where Jesus wants us to be.
Another scripture comes to mind. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, ESV). When we see ourselves as better—in any way—than those we serve, we do not have the “mind of Christ”. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8, ESV).
If we are to serve Christ well, we need a transformation of our thinking. I need a transformation of my thinking!
What are my takeaways from my Guatemala trip?
Servanthood. A renewed mind, determined to see Jesus in those whom I serve—first as a servant, and hopefully then as a brother or sister in Christ. I learned that loving and helping others is not an inconvenience, but an opportunity. And I have walked away with a different understanding of “the least of these.” “The last shall be first,” is a prevalent theme in Matthew’s Gospel. You and I are to be the servants of all.
Blessings on your week!