Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.
I was 40 years old the first time I put on a pair of reading glasses. I had stubbornly defied all the predictions that I would never make it out of law school without needing glasses (presumably due to all the reading law school requires…this is where some of my law school friends who read this blog will surely make some wise crack about how little reading Blake actually did in law school). It was one evening during my 41st year when I was at my parents’ house and they noticed I was squinting as I read the paper. Dad handed me a pair of reading glasses and my life changed right then and there. I could not believe how much they helped! I had a whole new outlook on life…literally.
That is what glasses are supposed to do, cause us to see differently. Thus we have little sayings such as “She sees the world through rose-colored glasses”. The glasses we wear have everything to do with our outlook.
I have been a Bible teacher for almost 30 years now. Clearly, there are some books and passages in the Bible which are a sheer joy to teach and there are others which…well, let’s just say they challenge my ability to “keep it fresh”. One of the passages I LOVE to teach is in Matthew: the sermon on the mount. I know many scholars and commentators believe this “sermon” is actually just Matthew’s compilation and summary of many lessons Jesus taught over a period of time. I understand that theory and I am not nearly enough of a Bible scholar to debate it. But personally, I don’t like it. I very much prefer the amazing mental picture I have in my mind of Jesus sitting on the hillside and looking out over a crowd of people whose hearts and minds he knew (just like he knew the circumstances of the Samaritan woman at the well, and he knew the heart of the rich young ruler) and then turning to his disciples and teaching an utterly awesome lesson about seeing the world through kingdom-colored glasses.
That, after all, is the common theme running throughout the sermon (or sermons) on the mount. Jesus came to help us see things differently than the world has taught us to see. For example, he helps us to see the law in all its dimensions, rather than just the shallow, one-dimensional view of the Pharisees. He helped the disciples to see the entire concept of “righteousness” differently than their institutional religion had taught it to them. But before any of that, he gave us the beatitudes, where he helped us see humanity differently than any of us are otherwise inclined to see it.
Jesus looked across the crowd and saw hurting people. He saw the “poor in spirit” and told the disciples those people will be valued in the kingdom. He saw those whose hearts were broken by the loss of a loved one and he told the disciples the kingdom will treat those people differently. He saw meek, gentle, lowly people and told the disciples that the kingdom of Heaven will see those people in a new light. At the end of the beatitudes, he even saw the future of the disciples themselves and gave them words of encouragement to hold onto when their own suffering comes. Through these 12 short verses of Matthew’s gospel, we receive our own pair of kingdom-colored glasses, through which we can see people differently.
And if there is anything the church needs today, it is the ability to see people differently…to see people the way God sees them, the way Jesus saw them. What a difference that would make in His church!
© Blake Coffee
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