Sunday, October 12, 2014

Even if it isn't safe, I should take my eyes off the road.

Search for the LORD and His strength; continually seek His face. Psalm 105:5

Be still, then, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:11

Rob Bell points out that in Genesis 12, a man named Abram is called (elected, predestined, chosen) to be a blessing. That was the purpose.  God was going to bless him, and through him, he is going to bless the world. And this calling is universal. It is for everybody. All kinds of people all over the place are going to be blessed by God through Abraham. God has no boundaries. God blesses everybody. People who don’t believe in God. People who are opposed to God. People who do evil violent things. God’s intentions are to bless everybody. It rains on the just and the unjust alike.

And when Jesus comes He says, “I am among you as one who serves.” The best and greatest and most important are the ones who humble themselves, set their needs and desires aside, and selflessly serve others.

The Church doesn’t exist for itself; it exists to serve the world. It is all about the people that God wants to bless through the Church.

And we the Church are learning how to suffer well. Not to avoid suffering, but to feel the full force of it. Ultimately our gift to the world around us is hope. Not blind hope that pretends everything is fine and refuses to acknowledge how things are. The kind of hope that comers from staring pain and suffering right in the eyes and refusing to believe that this is all there is. It is what we all need – hope that comes not from going around the suffering but from going through it.

Lewis continues this thought. Now the very Pagans knew that any beggar at your door might be a god in disguise, and the parable of the sheep and the goats is Our Lord’s comment. What you do, or don’t do, to the beggar, you do, or don’t do, to Him.

Simple faith leaps to this with astonishing ease. I once talked to a continental pastor who had seen Hitler, and had, by all human standards, good cause to hate him. “What did he look like?” I asked. “Like all men,” he replied. “That is, like Christ.”

I got my hair cut yesterday. And the stylist asked me about my glass cross from the St. Francis monastery on one of the islands outside of Venice, and of course that led into the rest of my summer. Because it is on my mind, mulling over the God revealed I met there. I often hear about the post-Godness of the continent, but I saw Him on every corner, alive and with outstretched arms calling His children to come home. But I digress. She asked if I stayed in touch with anyone, and I said yes, in fact I just heard from this guy the day before. And, well, let me tell you his story…

But my thoughts went to earlier in the morning, when I was driving Shaun and Chuyi home from their first weary battle with the SAT exam, and we passed a woman dragging a very heavy suitcase along a rocky path. And she looked tired. And I heard that Voice, the same Voice that told me to kneel down on the pavement and pray for those guys’ legs to get well, tell me to stop and help her. And I drove on, with the stack of excuses of a crowded car, of tired children, of absolute disobedience.

Blasphemer. Did I just drive past Jesus on the road?

And really, really perhaps that one act of kindness would not have only been a blessing to that old lady, Christ in an old flowered dress, but perhaps it might have colored in the lines Shaun was drawing in his mind trying to answer that essay question on Power, and what we should do with it.

I will never know.

Lord, Your face will I seek. 

Prayer: LORD God, Creator and Sustaining Wisdom of all that is, both in heaven and on earth, take from me those thoughts, actions and object that are hurtful. Give me instead those things that are profitable for me and all who seek rightly to praise You. I ask this grace in the company of all believers and through the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, who is, with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever an ever. Amen.