The Least of These
Katniss comes from District 12, the coal district. Life there is pretty grim. People are poor and starving, and the working conditions in the mines are bad, at best. It doesn’t seem that there is much good to come out of District 12, nor much reason to be thankful for living there. Eventually though, Katniss came to feel that all of the disadvantages of coming from District 12 just might be blessings in disguise and actually work to her advantage after all.
Had Katniss come from another district, she would have never been able to get outside the fence to hunt; other districts were much more closely guarded and monitored to ensure no one left the perimeter. If she’d never learned to use the bow and arrow, she would never have survived the games. It dawned on her, “Maybe being the least prestigious, poorest, most ridiculed district in the country has its advantages. Such as, being largely ignored by the Capitol as long as we produce our coal quotas.”
In the arena, as Katniss was pitted against tributes who had every advantage their superior districts could provide, it felt as if they had the upper hand. They had better training and better nutrition and strength. It wasn’t until they were in the midst of the Games, however, that Katniss began to see that all that privilege was actually to their detriment. “That the Careers have been better fed growing up is actually to their disadvantage, because they don’t know how to be hungry. Not the way Rue and I do.” Starvation, Katniss’ old enemy in District 12, was suddenly her ally.
It seemed as if no winner ever came from District 12. It seemed as if Katniss was one of the least among the tributes. And yet, it was Katniss from District 12 (OK, Peeta too, to be fair, thanks to Katniss) who won the Games.
This reminds me of Jesus. He was from a place not too unlike District 12—Nazareth. So similar that when Phillip tells Nathanael, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph,” Nathanael can’t believe it. He replies doubtfully, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” No one expected the Savior, the one to defeat death itself, to come from a place as unassuming as Nazareth.
Jesus then went about during his earthly ministry sharing his love for the things that are least, last, and lost in our world. He said some crazy things like, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last,” and “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” He said that God the Father would consider any act we did for the least on this earth as something done directly for Him. Don’t believe me? “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.’”
Jesus spent his time with the least of society. He started his ministry with fishermen and later, in Acts, it says the people were “astonished” by them because they were “unschooled, ordinary men.” He didn’t recruit a bunch of superstars to be on his team. He reached out to the most hated of society (like tax collectors) and the most feared (like lepers). And then, when his average-Joe disciples began to think they were really something for following Jesus (you can see this because they asked Jesus a hypothetical question about who was the greatest in His kingdom), he gives them this surprising little jewel:
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
Maybe I’m wrong about this, but something tells me that wasn’t exactly what they were looking for! To be greatest in the kingdom of heaven you have to be…lowly?…like a child?
Katniss began to learn in the Games what Jesus has been saying all along—being the least and the last isn’t necessarily a negative. In fact, more often than not, that thing which you used to think of as your enemy, that thing which proves you are the least among the rest, it will become your greatest ally.
Let me leave you with what is arguably Jesus’ most famous teaching—the Beatitudes from His Sermon on the Mount. Notice that every quality He mentions is something our culture would probably put in the “least” category—and he calls it blessed.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Questions for Discussion:
- What things in your life make you feel like the least?
- What things in your life make you feel more like the Careers, like you have the advantage?
- Have you ever had a time in your life where your enemy became your ally? (This may be a person, or it may be a thing, like starvation was for Katniss.)
- Jesus loved the least, last, and lost—and He showed it with His actions. How about you? How do you feel about the least, last, and lost in our society?
- Do you know that Jesus loves every part of you? Even those things you think are “least” about you?
- I would like to challenge you to write down all the things in your life which you feel are disadvantages. Take a minute to look at that list and think about the Beatitudes—are there any Beatitudes you could apply to the items on your list?
- Read Isaiah 61:1-7, which is all about how God reverses your circumstances (turns ashes into beauty, etc.).
- Pray and ask God to turn your list of disadvantages into advantages in your life…or to show you how he already has! And give thanks!!!
Click here to see all the Hunger Games inspired Devotions.
Click here to see a compilation of quotes from the Hunger Games