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January 9, 2013 – Matthew 9

Click here to read Matthew 9 on BibleGateway.com

optical-illusion-1In the words of one of the epic wise men of our time, many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view. For instance, it’s undeniably true that a playoff system is far better for college football than the bowl system; unless of course you are a major college power, in which case the bowl system is better for your greedy, soul-less bowl promoters. Both cases are true, depending on your point of view and level of evilness. If point of view can change how we perceive life, the question naturally follows: what should our perspective be?

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?

When you approach the “world,” i.e the people that don’t go to your church, what do you see? It seems that often we see “the others” as something less than friendly. Many of us are on various church email lists or facebook groups. In general, what kind of tone do these groups have about non-believers? Is the tone encouraging? Is it inviting? Or is it threatened? Is it talking about how God loves everyone, or about how some groups are destroying our heritage/culture/faith/country/etc.? What would Jesus think about these groups?

In our reading today, we see that when Jesus saw the “others” in the crowd, he “had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless.” Is that how you see people outside of your church? Do you have compassion on them? When you see people drinking at the local watering hole, do you say to yourself “man, I’m glad I’m not like those drunken sinners,” or do you say “God, how can I show these people your love?” Are you secretly glad when the stinky homeless guy who visits your church sits somewhere else, or does your heart break when you see him? When you see that woman with that revealing dress walk down the street, do you want help her see that God loves her no matter what, or do you think less complimentary thoughts about her attire?

One of the great challenges of the Christian life is to adjust our vision to see the world as Jesus sees it. It seems like we more often see non-christians as harassers rather than the harassed, or we are filled more with fear or disgust at the sight of the effects of sin rather being filled with compassion. How do we change our perspective?

YOU TURN YOURSELF ABOUT

Truth be told, it doesn’t seem like the Bible spells this one out, but Jesus does give us a couple of pointers that may help. He says “pray…to the Lord…because the workers are few.” It seems then that our first job is to pray; pray for God to change our vision and our hearts. We pray to the Lord; we must get to know Jesus or we will never see the world as he does.

Second, our beliefs must affect our actions. Though there are plenty of secular charities out there that do great work (i’m looking at you, Bono), the reality is that our relationship to Christ can greatly affect our compassion. The Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey reported that “the average annual giving among the religious is $2,210, whereas it is $642 among the secular. Similarly, religious people volunteer an average of 12 times per year, while secular people volunteer an average of 5.8 times.” If our focus is on Christ, our giving will reflect that.

Finally, we need to realize that the workers are few, so we need to get busy. We must realize that our work is needed, and that the most important thing we do is to just get started. Doing a little bit of something is far better than doing a whole lot of nothing. Often times once we start on the work, God reveals more of his vision to us, which leads us into more work, and more vision. We have to get started.

What will you see today?

 

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