Friday, October 3, 2014

Through Jesus's Eyes

Half rim glasses
I read an article on Huffington Post recently (not my normal reading fare, but it was recommended a few times) where the author talked about looking at her possessions with new eyes.  She talked of putting on her "perspectacles," and seeing her home as a blessing bordering on miraculous instead of a place that needs constant cleaning and updating.  Lately, I've been wanting to put on some perspectacles of my own, but instead of seeing my stuff differently, I'd like to see people differently.  I want to see the people around me as Jesus sees them.

When Jesus read from the book of Isaiah in Nazareth at the beginning of his ministry, He did two things: proclaim he was the long awaited Messiah and gave his listeners an idea of how he saw the people around him. 
The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19)
At first, the crowd was pleased.  They were happy to hear such gracious words (v 22).  After all, weren't they poor and oppressed?  They had been under Roman rule for years.  Their recent history with not only the Romans but with all groups of Gentiles had left them with a skewed view of the Messiah. They believed He would not only save them from Roman oppression but also exalt them above all other peoples.

Jesus understood their hearts.  They were not only questioning the home town boy; they were eagerly awaiting the Messiah to stick it to the Romans.  That's what prompted some of his next words, and his listener's murderous anger.
And He said, "Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. "But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. "And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." (Luke 4:24-27)
They weren't angry because he claimed to be the Christ; they were angry that he implied the Christ might come for anyone other than them. While feeling sorry for their own political oppression, they failed to see the oppression of sin that blanketed them and all the nations around them.  They didn't see others (or indeed themselves) with Jesus's eyes.

We would never be guilty of that, would we?  In America, Christians have not been the targets of violent oppression thus far, but lately the news has been full of believers being ridiculed, fired, or driven out of business or elected office because of their faithful stance.  How do we respond?  A few years ago, we defiantly ate chicken sandwiches.  We rage on social media.  We sign petitions and peacefully protest.  What if we instead saw our oppressors as Jesus saw them?  Captives to sin, blind sheep without a shepherd to lead them? 

I'm not saying that if you stood in line to buy a chicken sandwich in July of 2012 that you are a bad person. But let me tell you what one Christian I know did instead.  She helped a lesbian couple in their neighborhood move from an apartment to a house.  She built a loving relationship with people embroiled in sin.  One of the ladies began attending church with her.  Since then, the couple has split and the lady who remained is now a baptized believer.  Eating more chicken isn't bad, but seeing a person through Jesus's eyes is better.

Today my challenge to myself and to you is to put on new "perspectacles."  Instead of seeing groups of people as an enemy to be fought on the battleground of social media, capitalism, or the courts, try seeing them as Jesus would.  As captives waiting to be freed, the poor who desperately need good news, and the blind who can be granted sight.


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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