Eyes to See
As a contact lens wearer there is a particular game I play every morning: Am I putting it in inside out? Yes, there is a right side out dimension to my lens. It is designed that way to ensure that it stays in place and corrects for the vision deficiencies in that eye. There is a subtle difference that can be seen which determines if it is in the correct orientation. When the lens is inside out, I know immediately. It doesn’t sit right. It is uncomfortable and it just doesn’t settle in my eye. It is very annoying. I might be able to see with corrected vision but it’s just not right. In Scripture, sight is often used as a metaphor for faith. When Jesus taught in parables, stories without easy answers, he often challenged conventional notions about how we see the world. Often times he would close these stories with “the one who has eyes to see, let them see.” This statement becomes a challenge to consider deeply whether or not the way we see the world is aligned with God’s purpose.
Searching New Understandings
The Gospels generally, and Matthew’s Gospel particularly, call any who would seek to embrace Jesus to walk a path that is different from the prevailing wisdom of the world. Our first encounters with God, in the Garden stories of Genesis, depict God as the One who walks through creation in intimate relationship with us. When sin and separation rear their ugly heads that intimacy changes. Humanity became fearful of God and the common adversities of humanity were reconceived as punishment from God. Instead of seeking intimacy with God, humanity began to avoid God and sought to avoid God’s punishment. As long as we did the ‘right’ things we would be fine. To be faithful meant avoiding sin and avoiding anyone else that could paint us with their sin. Over time, the judgments about these folks was made based on the perception that if they were suffering they were sinners, which meant they should be pushed to the margins.
Where Discipleship Begins
For most of my ministry I’ve conceived of discipleship as a matter of the things we do. Even as I’ve previously preached our text for Sunday from Matthew 25 my approach was mostly on doing the things that would care for the people in our midst who are in need and those who are marginalized. If we are to love Jesus, we need to see Jesus as present in the people we would call ‘other’. As I reflect on this text in the context of 2020 and the state of the human community, it seems to me that I have missed an important precursor step. What if discipleship doesn’t begin with what we do, but rather it begins with how we see and define our relationships with the world and with each other? The last parable in Matthew 25 is a call to see people different. Until we can see the people in need, at the margins of our society, as members of our own family, we will never be able to plumb the depths of discipleship. We will never be able to move beyond caring for the needy as charity and the advocacy and care that will build the Beloved Community that Jesus inaugurates. This is the culmination of the last two weeks of worship as we have moved through the need to see a disciplined life as the faithful response to an ever-changing world and embraced the importance of risking what we’ve received as response. Join us on Sunday as we reflect on the need to see the world differently…to see it as Jesus sees it…as we live into Beloved Community together.