“A person’s a person no matter how small” podcast notes

Moment’s after this podcast I met a couple of homeless guys that needed lunch. Couldn’t help reaching out to Jonathan and Lesley afterward.  Here’s our text chain

This podcast sounds like a Dr. Seuss book doesn’t it. It’s actually based on one of the most famous things that Jesus said, but let’s go with the Dr. Seuss theme for a second. I feel like I’ve finally found some books that Jonathan may have read.

Do you have a favorite Dr. Seuss book?

The Cat in the Hat
The Grinch
The Lorax
Yertle the Turtle
Daisy Head Maisie
Gertrude McFuzz
The five hundred hats of Bartholomew Cubbins

In 2001 publishers weekly released a list of the best selling hard back children’s books of all time and Dr. Seuss had 16 of the top 100.  He outsold the next closest author by 40 million books.  And he has not stopped this century.  Even though Dr. Seuss died 25 years ago he’s still going strong.  In 2013 he sold 4.8 million books a 50% increase on the 3.2 million he sold in 2010.

Here’s another fact about Dr. Seuss. His name is actually pronounced Soice. It was his mother’s maiden name.

While at Dartmouth, he was caught drinking gin with nine friends in his room and was suspended from all extracurricular activities, including the college humor magazine.  To continue work on the college paper without the administration’s knowledge, Geisel began signing his work with the pen name “Seuss”

Dr. Seuss famously stated that he never began writing a story with a moral in mind. Kids can see a moral coming a mile off, he said.  But you can’t escape the fact that his books are filled with bits of truth and life lessons that we all need to be reminded of.

Dr. Seuss on commitment
I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephants faithful 100%

Dr. Seuss on differences
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches / And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.

Dr. Seuss on the commercialization of the holidays
“What if Christmas, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas perhaps means a little bit more!”
Dr. Seuss on standing up for your rights
I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

Here’s my favorite
Even though you can’t see or hear them at all
A person’s a person, no matter how small.

That one line has incredible meaning for all of us.  It had great meaning for Dr. Seuss.  It marked a 180 degree shift in Dr. Seuss’ life and attitudes.  I will get to that story later. That statement speaks of a lifestyle shift we all need to think.  I believe it is not only a good idea, but it is a call from God.

It doesn’t matter how small the person is
How small their position is
How small their influence is
How small their bank account is
How little popularity they have

Those are the people that God loves.

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” Luke 9:48

These are pretty popular verses in the bible but let me give them some context. The chapter before Jesus makes this statement he’s talking about the end of the world. This is what it looks like. We don’t really have time to get into that but if you want to know about the end of the world we have a podcast called “The end of the world as we know it.”

Jesus tells people what the end of the world looks like. Wars, rumors of wars, famine flood, dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria. Then he tells people what to do. Be ready. Don’t be caught off guard. Then he says this famous line.

Whatever you did for one of the least of these you did for me.’ He says it to those people that get in and those people left out. Here’s the dividing line. Whatever you did for the least of these you did for me.

Does this story make it seem like if you do the right things you’ll get into heaven?

I think what Jesus is saying is my people will have my heart.  My people will care about what I care about.  And this is what I care about.  The least.

The word least means “small.”  A person’s a person no matter how small.

This word covers a lot of different kinds of small.

What kind of people would you consider least or small?

It means small in size.
Small in importance.
Small in authority.
Small in rank.
Here’s a good one.  Small in the estimation of men.

Turns out there are a lot of ways to be least.  You can be the least popular.  the least influential.  The least wealthy.  The least popular.  The least likable.

What you do for the least is important.  In fact it’s very important.  When Jesus left the world he told us this is what we are to be about.
Our job is to care for the least.
To reach out to them all.
A persons a person
no matter how small.

Turns out this is a global shift for us.  Most of us spend our life trying to get away from small.  We don’t want to be the least.  We want to be the most.  The best.  The most influential.  The most athletic. The most popular.  The most worthy.  To get to that spot we need to align ourselves with people who are the most and the best not the smallest and the least. We want to hang out with the most popular crowd. We want to rub elbows with the most successful.  We want to stay Linkedin.  We want more Facebook friends.  More likes.  More followers.  We call it networking.  This just comes natural to us.

Jamal Mosely wedding

Byron Scott
Luke Walton
Michelle Wie
DeAndre Jordon

Souplantation wedding

That one took place at Souplantation.  The ceremony was in the back room and the reception included all you can eat soup and salad and soft serve ice cream.  I’ve tried to talk my daughter into that venue for her wedding but she’s not interested.

As a people, generally speaking, we aren’t attracted to the least.  Our first thought isn’t to talk about the small.  We want to talk about the most famous person we know and the most influential person. We want to rub elbows with the brightest and best.  Those are the people who make it on our resume’s.  It’s our nature.

Jesus prioritized little children. He valued them in a society that didn’t
Jesus honored women in a culture that viewed them as second class
Jesus told us to take care of widows and orphans. That’s how you will be judged.
He told us to care for the homeless and the hungry.
Jesus lived in a culture that deemed certain races as lower than others.  Jesus told us to love them all, but pay special attention to the small.

What are the advantages of going small? Focusing on the least?

There is no line when you care for the small. There are endless opportunities and you don’t have to fight for position.
When you fight to be big there is always a line. There is always competition. If you get to the place where you are on top there will always be someone trying to knock you off your pedestal.
That’s not true if you try to care for the small.  There is always opportunity
There is always room in sunday school to teach
Our youth ministry is always looking for people to serve.  Chad specifically needs guys right now
There is never a line to feed homeless people
There is never a line to reach out to the least at work.
My challenge to you today is simple.  Look for the small.  They  are everywhere.
You can find the small in sunday school.  Every week they come to us in need of a hug and attention.
You can find the small in your neighborhood.  They are dressed as single moms and kids who are neglected and neighbors who have lost a loved one
You can find the small at work.  They are the people that no one wants to hang out with.  The boss that has isolated himself, the co-worker that is a little rough around the edges
You can find the small in your own family.  It’s the brother who has gone astray, the child that is grumpy and distant, the spouse who made a mistake
You can find the small on the street. They are holding that cardboard sign.  Don’t just roll down the window and give them your change.  You may be encouraging an addiction. Take the time to drive through and get them a meal.
You can find the small in prison.  They just need a visit by someone to give them hope

Going small will change the way you think.  It did for Dr. Seuss.  Let me explain.  I want to close by reading a line from the book Horton Hears a Who that I’m guessing you haven’t ever read.  It’s stuck in the front with the copyright information and the print date.

It reads simply The book is dedicated to “My Great Friend, Mitsugi Nakamura of Kyoto, Japan.”

You may or may not have known that from 1941-1943, Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, drew over 400 political cartoons for the newspaper PM. Among them were racist portrayals of Japanese people with slant-eyes, pig-noses, and coke-bottle glasses. Google them if you are interested.

When readers complained about these depictions, Dr. Seuss wrote back saying, “But right now, when the Japs are planting their hatchets in our skulls, it seems like a hell of a time for us to smile and warble: ‘Brothers!’ It is a rather flabby battlecry. If we want to win, we’ve got to kill Japs…We can get palsy-walsy afterward with those that are left.”

Then in 1953, Dr. Seuss visited Japan to research an article for Life magazine. He wanted to write about the effects of the war and post-war efforts on Japanese children. With the help of Mitsugi Nakamura, dean of Doshisha University in Kyoto, Seuss went to schools all over Japan and asked kids to draw what they wanted to be when they grew up. What Seuss saw made a deep impression, and when he returned to America, he started work on Horton Hears A Who! The book is dedicated Nakamura. He said in an interview, “Japan was just emerging, the people were voting for the first time, running their own lives—and the theme was obvious: ‘A person’s a person, no matter how small,’ though I don’t know how I ended up using elephants.”

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me

That person can look like a child.  It can look like a homeless person.  It can look like an angry boss.  It can look like a single mom.  It can look like a person you once called enemy, because a persons a person no matter how small