Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Royal Treatment

     The entertainment and news shows are abuzz with excitement.  The royal wedding of William and Kate is only weeks away.  The guest list is slowly being revealed.  People everywhere are watching with voyeuristic curiosity.
     It's amazing how intrigued the world is with the royal family.  Their weddings, births, and funerals find crowds of people from all over the world lining the streets to get a glimpse of them.  Emotions run high, and you see people of all ages weep with sadness and joy.  The royals, for the most part, are treated with preferred respect and devotion.  They seem to deserve special consideration.
     When I think of royalty kings and queens come to mind.  There is one King who was not treated like most.  The King of kings...Jesus.  He was overlooked by most people.  They didn't recognize him for the monarch that He was.  He was born of a peasant woman, Mary.  His supposed father, Joseph was a carpenter.  Not exactly throne material. 
     Jesus waited until he was almost middle aged to begin his ministry.  Until then, everyone thought He was Joseph's son, a chip off the old block.  There was probably a lot of talk around town about the young woodworker.  Whispers that began even before His birth.  People knew that Mary was pregnant before she and Joseph were formally married.  She was even sent away for a time.  Some people had heard that there was a crazy story about an angel visiting her!  Sure there was.  That's a nice clean explanation for it, all right.  She didn't do ANYTHING wrong.  Hmph.  Claiming that the baby was sent from GOD!!  The nerve of the wench!!  He ended up being born in a BARN for goodness sakes!  God's Son...he didn't even look like royalty.  He had wood chips in his hair and beard, and old leather sandals.  Divine Being, indeed!!  Oh yes, there was plenty of gossip. 
     That's what people like to do, isn't it?  If they hear something that is negative about a person, that's the thing to talk about.  I mean, other people have a right to know, don't they?  Isn't it our JOB to inform them?  It doesn't matter if they have the story exactly right...I mean, what's the difference in a few details?  Sometimes the story can be a bit boring...a little embellishment here and there makes the story more interesting.  Knowing something about someone else makes us look smart and intellegent.  I read the other day that a gossip tells more about him/herself than it does about the person they're discussing.
     Back to our Jesus became more and more famous, people began to treat Him differently.  He could provide a service for them...He could heal the sick, and raise the dead!  And word got around about the free meals!  Heyyy!!  This is different!!  People wanted to know Him now!  It was a cool thing to be with this Jesus of Nazareth!  They treated Him with more respect.  He was invited to wealthy peoples' homes, and crowds followed His every move.  Jesus noticed the difference in how people treated Him, and how they treated their friends and family.  And how they acted toward the poor and sick?  It was obvious they didn't count.  After all, they were below society's standards.
     One of the last things Jesus taught His disciples was the parable of the sheep and the goats.  It is found in Matthew 25:
The Sheep and the Goats
 31-33"When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
 34-36"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:

   I was hungry and you fed me,
   I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me a room,
   I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
   I was sick and you stopped to visit,
   I was in prison and you came to me.'
 37-40"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'
 41-43"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

   I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
   I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
   I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
   Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'
 44"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'
 45"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'
 46"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."

     Jesus was keenly aware of how people are treated differently.  He treated all people the same.  That is not to say that He consented to bad behavior.  He did not.  Jesus very firmly let those who were stubborn in their sin, know that He didn't approve.  He didn't hate the sinner...He hated the sin.
     The Lord knew that people tended to look down on others that are different from them.  Those who were infirmed had a difficult row to hoe.  Those people who were quirky or had odd ways were left to their own devices.  No one wanted to associate with them.  No one, that is, but Jesus.  The difference in how He treated them, was that He treated everyone with respect.  What is respect?  It is the "esteem of, or sense of worth of a person".  Jesus considered all people worth something...they were worthy of love.
     How do we treat others?  I'm not talking about our friends and family...those we don't know.  How do we treat those who are different from us?  Do we slyly avoid them, or greet them as we would someone that was noteworthy.  Do we have patience with those who are mentally challenged, or walk away in disgust?  What about the homeless and impoverished?  How would we treat Jesus if we met Him face to face?  If the answer is different from any of the above scenarios, we may have to rethink things.
     Respect.  All people crave it...all people deserve it.  Here is an acronym for the word:
                                     Everyday (to)
                                     Enough (to)
     Give those who come into our path a little bit of kindness and compassion.  You could unknowingly change their life.  You could be the only Jesus they meet.  Mercy and grace are given to us every day.  We need to pass it on.  Treat others as we would treat Jesus.  Give them the royal treatment.  

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