Seeing clearlyLatest Issue, Where's the Faith? Thursday, June 22nd, 2017
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
I’m a Midwest boy; I grew up in Madison, Wisc. and when I was a kid way back in the olden days, there was a rite of passage that was taken very seriously – the all-important driver’s license! When we got that license we had arrived! It meant independence, freedom!
Now, in order to get the coveted license, you have to pass a tricky written test and a nerve-racking driving test. And then there’s a third test before getting your license that needed to be passed as well; the vision test!
Remember that phrase, “What you see is what you get!” It’s so true, vision is subjective. Ask any police officer trying to get an eyewitness report at the scene of an accident, and many times they’ll tell you that ten witnesses will give ten different versions of the same event!
In the Gospels, we see Jesus strolling around the temple during the Festival of Dedication. This image of Jesus was far different than the picture of a Messiah that the religious authorities in the temple had imagined and what they were looking for.
The Festival of Dedication commemorated a military-religious triumph. The Festival was commemorating the rededication of the temple after its desecration, some 130 years earlier. This was, and still is, a time of great celebration.
Now, Jesus didn’t look like your typical military leader that sent enemies running, nor did he talk like one either. Jesus didn’t give speeches of running the occupying Romans out of town. No, Jesus talked about being a Good Shepherd. Jesus spoke of self-sacrifice, of loving and praying for your enemies, of being a servant. Jesus likened the faithful to sheep – not mighty warriors. Jesus offered protection and presence, not guts and glory.
To the religious authorities who questioned his identity and challenged him to tell them plainly if he was the Messiah, Jesus didn’t quite look right or even sound right. His words and images were not what they expected.
How could suffering bring salvation?
How could weakness bring strength?
How could a shepherd stand up against a soldier?
How could the presence of Almighty God reside in such a humble spirit as this Jesus?
These people failed their vision test. They could only focus on the work God had done in the past. They were stuck and couldn’t envision the work God was doing now, the new work of God that stood right before them. They couldn’t see clearly.
Now, none of us have perfect vision. We suffer from a variety of colorful maladies. I’ve heard them referred to as the “color wheel of blindness.” Let’s look at a few of them.
For all of us at some point, an itchy, red, watery eye has led to the diagnosis of conjunctivitis, AKA Pink Eye.
Pink eye is also a spiritual infection that if left untreated makes the whole process of seeing uncomfortable, then miserable, and eventually unbearable.
The “pink eye” that keeps us from seeing God’s presence affects all we see and do. We can miss the Divine because of negative thinking; from using our words to speak negatively about ourselves or gossiping about others; from making assumptions and taking things personally.
Now, when the liver malfunctions, a substance known as Bilirubin builds up in our body and turns not only our skin, but the whites of our eyes a sickly yellow – our whole body becomes jaundiced.
Yellow Eye is also a symptom of a jaundiced soul; an unhealthy buildup of disappointments and failures, a lifetime of holding on to hurts and grudges, and attitude of un-forgiveness and negativity, leads a heart to turn cynical and sarcastic. A yellow eye sheds no tears for others and it leads to calluses on the heart.
One of the worst monsters ever to stalk the world has always been found right in our midst; the green-eyed monster of jealousy and envy. The green eye cannot celebrate the successes of others without feeling left out and bitter.
When green is the color of your lens, life is all about “how comes”, always comparing and never having enough; never enough money, enough love, enough good looks, enough power, enough things, enough influence. Jealousy and envy never allow us to see clearly.
Unfortunately, some of the most permanently damaging black eyes are those we receive from our very own community, and it has hurt the vision of so many. This hurt has left the faithful bleary eyed, wary and weary of heart. When we are pummeled, in that place where we are supposed to feel the most secure and the most loved, the damage is often the most extensive.
Friends, let’s do all we can to counteract what some others are doing in the name of God, in the name of love, in the name of Christ! Let’s not further hurt the wounded. Sometimes it can be so embarrassing to be a Christian in the climate we are living in today. I mean you have to explain the actions of so many others who claim that title and many actions simply cannot be explained away.
Let’s follow the example of Jesus, following the Golden Rule, and loving God with all of our heart and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.
We are so blessed to belong to a community of faith that is a place of refuge, a sanctuary, a home. Many people have come here wounded and hurt and have received healing and hope. Let’s not be color blind, let’s not be stuck in the past, but let’s move forward, together, seeing clearly and leaving a legacy of hope, healing and wholeness! I can see clearly now …
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