Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To See Others Through the Eyes of Jesus

Today we are returning to our study on the Sermon on the Mount.
The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great [is] that darkness!  Matthew 6:22-23 NKJV
So what is Jesus saying here?  First of all, Jesus is not talking about people who are blind.  Blind people are not bad, but I doubt any sensible person believes that anyway.  Jesus, I believe, is talking about two things.  First, He is talking about spiritual blindness and secondly He is talking about how we perceive the world. 

Given that Jesus is addressing how to live in Christ, why would he be referencing spiritual blindness?  Sadly, many Christians choose to live in spiritual blindness.  It is not that they can not see, it is that they choose not to see.  They love darkness.  I can not think of anything more sad than that.  I also can not think of anything as ungrateful as that.  To imagine that someone who knows the truth of Jesus Christ yet chooses to live as through he were still in darkness is utterly appalling to me.  This is the worldly Christian.  This is the backslidden Christian.  This is the Christian who would rather spread gossip, profanity, malice, anger, or crude jokes than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is the Christian who not only lost his saltiness, but willingly gave it away because he would rather be like the world.  How dark, indeed, is the Christian who covers his light with the darkness of the world. 

This again goes back to the Beatitudes.  As Christians, we are to hunger and thirst after righteousness.  This is the exact opposite of that.  This is the rejection of righteousness.  This is the hunger and thirsting after the sin of the world we were cleansed of.  We need to let that light shine through us.  We need to keep our eyes on Jesus and live to become more and more like Him.  That is a Christian whose eyes are good. That is a Christian whose eyes do not wince from the light but stare right into it.  As Christian, we are called to be a light shining in dark places, but we fail in that whenever that dark place is in our own hearts.  The Bible tells us to walk in the light as we are children of the light.  If you find yourself loving the darkness more than you crave the light of Christ, you need to check your hearts as there is a serious problem with your walk with the Lord.

The other part of what Jesus means is in how we perceive the world.  In other words, it is the internal filters we see the world through.  We all have certain prejudices and preferences and it affects how we perceive other people.  Any of those filters add darkness to the pure light of Jesus Christ.  They distort and blur the image of the world around us and instead of seeing people in the light of Christ, we see them in the light of our own opinions.  Sometimes this leads to very wicked things, even within the church.  One example would be people who would for the most part be considered solid Christians yet still believed black people to be inferior to them.  For a long time, even in the church, it was disallowed for a white person to marry a black person.  For a terrible time in our history, it led to the justification of slavery.  That is not seeing people in the light of Christ.  Even today, we blur the line of hating the sin and not the sinner.  How many Christians are downright nasty and insulting to those who struggle with homosexuality.  Yes, it is a sin, but we are confusing the sin and the sinner when we use derogatory words against them.  We say we love the sinner, but we certainly do not act like it when we purposely insult people based on their sin.  I am not excusing the sin by no means, but there is a different between condemning the sin and being hateful to the sinner.  We also see this in terms of politics.  One big named popular pastor who was once a presidential candidate said that he would rather be around unbelieving patriots (per his definition of patriot) rather than unpatriotic brothers and sisters in the Lord.  For him, politics has become an idol that gets in the way of seeing people in the light of Jesus Christ.  We also see in much of the church where one is practically ostracized for being a Democrat rather than a Republican. 

The correct way to perceive others is in the light of Jesus.  I again refer back to the Beatitudes where Jesus declares "Blessed are the merciful."  For the unbeliever that means we are to have pity on those who are caught up in their sins.  That is not to say excuse their sins, but to have pity for them in that they are slaves to it.  We can not expect someone outside of Christ to stop sinning. If that were possible, Jesus would not have had to die on the cross.  We must pity them, we must love them with the same love that Christ has for them in that He died for them, and we must reach out in that love and share the love that is in Jesus and not the condemnation that is in our own hearts.  No matter who it is that we come in contact with, we must always keep in mind first that Jesus died for that person just as must as He died for you and it is our job to share that with them. 

The other thing we need to deal with is our own prejudices, especially racial prejudice. There is no race or national background that is superior one to another in Christ Jesus.  The Bible is clear that all races and all nations that have accepted Jesus are all one in Jesus.  You are not a white Christian, black Christian, Asian Christian, British Christian, American Christian, or any other kind of Christian.  We all just Christian.  We are all in Christ.  We all have the same inheritance in Christ.  And it was the same blood of Christ that saved us all.  Our faith must come before anything else, before race, before tribe, before nation, and before social status. 

And, finally, there is politics.  Politics is very divisive even within the church.  I have news for everyone, though.  Jesus was not a Republican.  He was not a Democrat either.  He also was not a Constitutionalist.  The problem with politics is that their very idea is against God's original plan for the government of men.  We are supposed to be governed by God and since that time we rejected that government, we are subjected to fallible men to rule us on earth.  I am not saying that we should not participate and vote or even run for office is so called, but that can never be what defines us.  I hear too many Christian politicians who seem to downplay their faith for the sake of their politics.  We can not put party platforms above godly values.  We can not put the Constitution over the Word of God.  Sadly, that is what we do whenever our politics define us above our faith.  That is what happens when we see others through the eyes of politics instead of through the eyes of Jesus.  God discerns men not political parties and so must we do the same.  To hear Christian pastors recommend churches based on their adherence to the Constitution above their adherence to Scripture is an abomination.  To say that a document written by man is more important in the church you attend than the very Word of God is reprehensible. And, especially now with the Patriot Movement, this happens often. 

The whole point of what Jesus is saying here is that we must look to the light of Jesus rather than the light of the world and we must look at others through the loving eyes of Jesus and not through our own prejudices, preferences, or self righteousness.  Any other way is darkness.  Any other way is in rebellion to our Lord who calls us to be more like Him.  Jesus ends with "If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great [is] that darkness!"  That is a powerful statement.  Think about it, we are called to be the light of the world.   If we who are lights choose instead to be darkness, how dark are we indeed?  We are also called to bring light to the world, but how can we do that is we cloud our own vision with the darkness we refuse to allow God to purge from our hearts. 
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  1 John 1:5-7 NKJV

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