Take any person and feed them a constant diet of news from a left or right wing point of view and eventually it will skew their thinking. Associate with people who are in despair over the world and you will become discouraged. Listen to people who see conspiracies everywhere and you will start to see them, too. Every one of us is affected by the information we possess, our experiences, our culture, and our faith. Those things combine to create a perspective and color our view of the world. We tend to see what we expect to see in any given situation, through lens colored by who we know, where we’ve been, and what others tell us.
I believe we need to consume the Scripture, pray for godly wisdom, work to understand our world, and stay in dialogue with people who think differently. Those things will protect us from developing a closed mind and allow us to love people, hope for the best in others, and trust God through it all.
The gospel of John tells us about some people so committed to their pre-conceptions, so gripped by their own ideas about what God wanted, that they missed a miracle that was right in front of their eyes. “Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew how long he had been ill, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get there, someone else always gets in ahead of me.” Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!” Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up the mat and began walking!
This miracle should be a reason for celebration and rejoicing, right? After 38 years of disability and sorrow, a man is whole, on his feet! You would think that everybody who saw him would be infected with his joy, overcome with his excitement. And, you would be wrong! Those people who were locked into their own ideas about God and the world saw the miracle but missed the wonder! They were offended that Jesus worked on the Sabbath! “But this miracle happened on the Sabbath day. So the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! It’s illegal to carry that sleeping mat!” He replied, “The man who healed me said to me, ‘Pick up your sleeping mat and walk.’ ” “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded. The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.”” (John 5:2-14, NLT)
My prayer is that I will not be so love with my ideas that I miss God’s plans! The Pharisees wanted to serve God. They imposed arduous rules on themselves so that they would not offend the Lord, but they forget mercy, blinded by preconceptions. And so, at a miracle moment, they only saw a man carrying his bedroll in violation of their religious traditions!
What is God doing all around you? How is He touching people that you know? If you only see their ‘sins’ you might miss His miracle. If you only focus on their flaws, you might miss the beauty of the Spirit that is emerging. God is at work in your neighborhood, and mine, too. The question is, will we perceive His work? Will we rejoice with those in whom He is working?
Jesus’ own disciples needed encouragement to ‘see’ what God was doing. During a trip through Samaria, among people they assumed were ‘too far gone’ to actually be hungry for God, Jesus challenged their prejudice. “I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time! “The Harvester isn’t waiting. He’s taking his pay, gathering in this grain that’s ripe for eternal life. Now the Sower is arm in arm with the Harvester, triumphant. That’s the truth of the saying, ‘This one sows, that one harvests.’ I sent you to harvest a field you never worked. Without lifting a finger, you have walked in on a field worked long and hard by others.” Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman’s witness.” (John 4:35-39, The Message)
Let these words challenge you to celebrate the wonder, to open your eyes to the miracles of the hand of God who is here, now. “So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city. When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Ah, my lord, what will we do now?” he cried out to Elisha. “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!”
Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened his servant’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.” (2 Kings 6:14-17, NLT)
Oh, Lord, open my eyes!
Keep me from believing that I have seen it all, know it all.
Teach me, lead me, let me be a person of love and hope,
Who expects You to do great things,
In the hearts of people You love. Amen.