Saturday, August 12, 2017

Seeing Through the Eyes of God: Part III of a Testimony and a Challenge

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 5:31-46

(On the left, my daughter treating goats and sheep in Kenya. The Ethiopians lined up for medical examinations by her unit below is also from her photo collection.)

 What does it mean to be "born again"?   To have recognized our sin nature, confessed we are a sinner, believe Jesus died for those sins and rose from the grave, to ask him to forgive us and dwell in our heart? 
Is it to have God's Grace, our sins forgiven and forgotten? 
Is it to have the assurance of salvation and of Heaven? 
Is that it?
I have heard analogies between being a new Christian and being a new baby, the Bible containing the nourishing milk of the Word. God is our Father in heaven. He will comfort us and meet our needs and prepare a place for us. All kinds of nice things done for us, is that it? Is there nothing we need do? No to-do lists to this new life?
True, we cannot earn this new birth, cannot do any works to gain it, can't buy it, bribe for it or steal it. But if we have it, what do we do with it?

(Left: Homeless man sleeping near Carpenter Hall, Philadelphia by L. E. Meredith 2005)

If you think about it, we couldn't earn our first birth either. We couldn't do any works to be born. It was a gift our parents gave us. What did we do with that gift?
Well, a lot we shouldn't have, but what is one of the first things you see a baby do?
It looks around. A baby's gaze will go to everything. It will stare at bright colors, follow every movement, it will begin to see the world through its eyes. When we are flesh and not spirit, we see through our eyes. WE see things WE want and things WE want to do, places WE want to go and homes WE want to live it. 
But once we've seen the gift of new birth our focus should change. We need to see the world through God's eyes, not our own.
When I was erased from the rolls of that church and called a goat, I came to realize I had lost some vision. I had come to see church and Bible study as a cozy little escape from the world. It was a place for ME to be cozy and for ME to be safe.   It was ME rationalizing this as MY just deserves for 30 years of actively serving. Let younger people do the heavy lifting now, I'm a senior citizen in the Body of Christ, let ME be carried to the finish line.

 (Right: Spinal Bifida sufferer at the A. I. duPont Children's Hospital, Wilmington, DE by L. E. Meredith 1982)

After all, isn't that what Paul said in Acts 20: 24 -- However, I consider I've done much worth in my life, so you go ahead and finish the race and complete the task, the Lord Jesus has given me a time out.
No, it isn't.
Paul actually said; "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."
There are those who are hungry and thirsty, naked and sick and imprisoned. We need to see them. But it isn't as obvious as a photo. We can see the needing masses in Ethiopia lining up for medical attention, the homeless sleeping on the park grass in Philadelphia, the ill and the physically challenged in Delaware with OUR eyes.  After all, even the Pagans treat the sick, feed the poor and visit the imprisoned of this world. And we should do all that as well, but we must see beyond the obvious. We need to see those hungry for the word of God, those thirsty for righteousness, those naked of spirit and sick of soul and imprisoned by sin. These can be found among the rich, famous, powerful and healthy, as well as the poor and broken, in people all around us. Yes, we must aid those who are suffering physically and emotionally, but if they know the Lord, then someday they will have gain. But if we treat the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the imprisoned, but don't see all who have souls in spiritual need and don't bring them the Bread of Life and the Living Water, then we haven't done what the Lord expects. And we can't see those needs unless we begin looking through the eyes of God.
I pray this is what I am about.
I would not want to be the Fig Tree giving the appearance of fullness, but bearing no fruit. And I sure don't want to be a goat.

Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.  "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. Isaiah 58:7-10

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