Friday, September 17, 2010

Day 10: Can't Ignore the Issues

Day 10
Theme: Can’t ignore the issues
Passage: John 9:1-12; 35-41

1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 7"Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. 35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" 36"Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." 37Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." 38Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. 39Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." 40Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?" 41Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

Did you ever as a child, or even as an adult, pretend you were blind? Just trying to imagine what it would be like not to have seen the sunrise or set? Never seen the flowers in bloom or a hummingbird with its ruby red throat flying?

The man we just read about didn’t have to imagine. He was living it. Yet notice that when Jesus and the disciples are walking by what is the initial question? Jesus Can you heal him? Jesus can you make him see? Nope, wrong….

It was “Who sinned?” That was a common belief in Jewish times that our sins resulted in punishment on us physically and on our children. Yet we should not be as astonished at this statement as to the statement that was missing “Jesus will you heal him?” They were too caught up standing over him arguing over who sinned to notice the need of the person.

We still do this today in our culture. We spend too much time looking and arguing about the person’s history who is hurting or in poverty then we do about trying to help.

When you see a beggar on the street do you think “How can I help them?” Or do you think “I wonder if they are spending that money on alcohol?”

How about the single mother who is seeking help at the battered woman’s shelter? Are we too worried about her not being married to care for her on a heart level?
Here is the clincher: When you hear the word AIDS what do you think? Terrible disease or a consequence of a SEXUAL sin? In most churches today we do not touch this topic. We don’t give to villages or areas in Africa unless they first PREACH, and then only give help to those who are in the church.

Yet that doesn’t line up with scripture. We over and over see Jesus, like in the passage above, HEALING first and then speaking truth into their lives.
Are we too busy looking at the history and not seeing the need?

In Richard Sterns’ Book “The Hole in our Gospel” he addresses the issue this way:

Here is the bottom line: if we are aware of the suffering of our distant neighbors – and we are – if we have access to these neighbors, either personally or through aid organizations and charities – and we do – and if we have the ability to make a difference through programs and technologies that work – which is also the case – then we should no more turn our backs on these neighbors of ours than then the priest the Levite should have walked by the bleeding man. 1

He then goes on to use these words from Bono who is working to make a difference because of an issue he is aware of, has access to and the ability to help.

Fifteen thousand Africans are dying each day of preventable, treatable diseases – aids, malaria, TB – for lack of drugs that we take for granted.
This statistic alone makes a fool of the idea many of us hold on to very tightly: the idea of equality. What is happening to Africa mocks our pieties, doubts our concern and questions our commitment to the whole concept. Because if we’re honest, there’s no way we could conclude that such mass death day after day would ever be allowed to happen anywhere else. Certainly not North America or Europe, or Japan. An entire continent bursting into flames? Deep down, if we really accept that their lives – African lives – are equal to ours, we would all be doing more to put the fire out. It’s an uncomfortable truth.1

So are you ignoring Jesus? Are you ignoring the issues that are around you? The mothers in need of help and guidance? The children who need loved? The homeless who need food and a chance?

You are aware, you have access, and the God Given Ability and obligation! What is stopping you?

Mother Teresa said this

When a person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. We have refused to be instruments of love in the hands of God to give the poor a piece of bread, to offer them a dress with which to ward off the cold. It has happened because we did not recognize Christ when, once more, he appeared under the guise of pain, identified with a man numb from cold, dying of hunger, when he came in a lonely human being, in a lost child in search of a home.

Monk and Neagel recorded a song that talks about this habit to ignore those who are different:
(or Watch on Youtube at : )

Nowhere to live, nowhere to fall
He used to have money, but he’s wasted it all.
His face is a photograph burned in my mind,
but I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He sleeps under stars, that’s all he can afford
His blanket’s an old coat he’s had since the war
He stands on the corner of Carter and Vine
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He may be a drifter, he’s grown old and gray
But what if he’s Jesus and I walk away?
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
but I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

She’s twenty-nine but she feels forty-eight
She can’t raise three kids on minimum wage
She’s cryin’ in back of the welfare line
but I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

She may be a stranger tryin’ to get through the day
but what if it’s Jesus and I walk away?
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
but I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

This is a call for a change in my heart
I realize that I’ve not been doin’ my part
when I needed a Savior, I found it in Him
He gave to me, now I’ll give back to them

Drifter or stranger, father or son
I’ll look for Jesus in every one
’cause I am the body and drink of the wine
and I’m thankful there’s more than the twenty-first time (3)

What need in your area is God telling you that you have been ignoring?

Who have you been worrying more about their history then seeking ways to help their need?

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