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Jesus in the stacks

I was in the stacks getting paging slips. I see this guy using his laptop. He has his legs up on a stool. It is against the rules, but I don’t say anything. I’ve just gotten challenged about the rules for what we are going to allow as proof of address for library cards, so I leave it.

This guy calls to me. Sort of. “Becky!” he says. “Becky!” I’m not Becky, I’m Betsy, but he’s close. I have “Elizabeth” on my nametag, so maybe I’ve told him my name and he’s half remembered it. I tell my name to people I like.

The only problem is that I don’t recognize him.

I look, and look, I and I think maybe he’s a regular, but he has cut his hair? Nothing.

So I think about it, and because he sort of knows my name, I come closer. He says “I’ve got something for you.” and he pulls out a box of cookies and starts opening them.

I’ve just finished a piece of banana bread, and I’m trying to not eat a lot of snacks. You don’t keep 50 pounds off by eating snacks. Plus, I don’t know this guy. Sure, the box was sealed, and they aren’t homemade, so I’m not worried about being poisoned. But something doesn’t feel right.

I tell him I can’t, that I’m trying to stay fit, so I can’t eat extra calories. He tells me he just walked several miles. I point out that I haven’t.

I walk away.

And then I think, is this Jesus in disguise? Did I just refuse to share a cookie with Jesus? Is this communion in the library?

And I think of this verse.

Matthew 25:31-46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

And I start to wonder. Am I doing the right thing? There are a whole lot of boundary issues with being a follower of Jesus. More on that later. At what point do I protect myself, and at what point do I realize that I’m safe all along?

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