If it doesn't count for Christ, it doesn't count.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Open The Eyes Of My Heart . . . I Recon

There is a video at the end of this blog post that I feel describes the state of heart for many Christians these days. We pray and sing worship songs asking and hoping that Jesus will "show up" in our worship services. In our homes, late at night or in the early hours of the morning, we might find ourselves on the floor, on our knees, faces buried in the rug, crying out and seeking Jesus, longing for Him just to step into the room with us so that we can see Him and know that all is well despite all that doesn't really seem to be well.

We might leave our church meetings or stand in our homes carefully trying to hide, or overcome, our disappointment that He didn't show up, we didn't see Him.

I think our problem is that we have in mind the Jesus that we long to see. We want to see Him performing miracles, reaching out to us, hugging us and holding us and maybe even briefly taking us away from the cares and burdens of this world. We want to see Him immediately fill our need or take away our problem. We really don't want to see Him in any other way until our moment of need has passed. And surely, He truly is seen in these ways. But, He has a way of presenting Himself to us when we are not particularly looking for Him. And he does this in a way that we really don't want to see Him. He does it in a way that, sadly, so many of us tend to ignore, or avoid, or reject automatically, instantly. . . . He has placed Himself right before us. And, yes, we have rejected Him.

(I am putting the entire text here.)

Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV)

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 

Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 

 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

How often do we groan, inwardly if not audibly, when we see ourselves being approached by someone that is going to ask for something? Maybe it is money. Maybe it is gas. Maybe it is food,but we see them headed our way and we start looking for a way out. How often do we look on, or down, in self-righteous judgement when we see a prisoner out on a work detail or being paraded across our tv screen?

Well, according to Jesus, looking at "these" is the same as looking at Him. Our attitude toward "these" is the same as our attitude toward Him. Rejection of "these" is the same as rejecting Him.

True, many asking for money for food or gas really want money for drugs or alcohol. Many make their living conning good people out of money that could be better used elsewhere. Those prisoners we see have been convicted of crimes . . . some horrible, unthinkable to decent human beings.

But, don't you know that many of those in Jesus' time on earth were engaged in the same types of activities for their day. And, of course, many weren't. They were just good people in bad circumstances. Just like today.

The thing is, I don't see Jesus qualifying them. He said, "I was hungry and you fed me" . . . or "you let me go hungry." "I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink" . . . or "you left my throat parched and dry." "I was a stranger and you welcomed me, you let me know that I was somebody to you" . . . or "you ignored me and made it clear that I meant nothing to you. At best, you had more important things on your mind than me." "I needed clothes and you gave them to me" . . . or "you could have helped me to just feel normal, to look normal, but you didn't." "I was sick and you made me feel so much better by simply coming to see me" . . . or "you wouldn't take a even few minutes to minister to me with your presence." "I was in prison and you came to show me that my actions, as bad as they were, did not disqualify me from ever being loved" . . . or "during my whole time there no one ever reached out to me to say that there is hope even for me."

Everyone needs something. EVERYONE. We all need Jesus. And it is wrong of those of us who know Jesus to keep Him to ourselves.

Maybe we should start with the attitude that these are all people that we actually want to help. If this is the case, then we are more likely to be able to offer the help they really need. If we daily, and throughout the day, ask God to prepare us for these encounters that He schedules for us we can depend on God to lead us into offering the help truly needed, whether it is material or spiritual or a combination of both. We must be very careful, though, when we start trying to find our way out of giving materially to those in need and trying instead to stick with one form of spiritual help or another.

James 2:14 (ESV)  What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

This is a big world filled with need. We have to be careful that our fleshly desire to show how spiritual we are - tell me that doesn't happen - does not override or over shadow the love of Christ which we must allow to shine through. The best way for us to show Jesus to the lost, and to each other, is to be Jesus. And we can only do that when we have surrendered ourselves to Him.

Jesus calls upon us to love far more than He calls upon us to "not sin". Indeed, He tells us that love overcomes a multitude of sin(s). That is simply because while we are operating in the love of God we cannot sin. I would say that an act of love is our greatest act of "spirituality". So, I would say to me, myself and I, "Stop trying to show that stranger how spiritual you are. Let go of yourself and surrender before all to be an instrument of God's love toward him or her in whatever way God directs. You want to be spiritual? Be loving."

There may be a series of these "open my eyes, Lord" blog posts. I really don't know. God reveals Himself in so many ways. But, again, Jesus has told us one place to look for Him in this world of need. Some do. Many of us just don't want to look in that direction. Before we do ask Him to reveal Himself to us, we need to understand and accept that it is up to Him as to just how He does that. We think we need to see Him in a certain way in a certain situation. That's only natural. Be assured, though, that He will reveal Himself in THE way that He knows is best for us. Be ready. Be alert. Expect the unexpected!


Here is your video: Can it be that you haven't found what you're looking for because you are looking in the wrong place, or for the wrong thing? (If you don't want to watch the church's ad, just bump up the timer line by about 48 seconds.