Monthly Archives: November 2018

14 Nov 2018

Jesus notices the least and reaches out to them!

By |2018-11-14T20:12:46+00:00November 14th, 2018|General|0 Comments

THE QUESTION IS, “DO WE GET IT?”

A LOOK AT THE MAN BORN BLIND IN JOHN 9

In John 9 we read about the man who was born blind with verse one stating that Jesus “saw” this man. I’m interpreting this basic observation to mean that Jesus notices “everyone,” but especially the least. The least, who have had a very hard life, through no fault of their own.

Jesus goes on to clarify (somewhat) that his being born blind was neither his parents nor his fault. He seems to be stating a startling truth about so many of our lives: He saying something like, “Hey guys (to his disciples), I don’t like the fact that this man was born blind any more than you do. But as long there are folks in such desperate need like this, well then, I want you to know, that I do “care,” and I want you to “care”, also. And I don’t want you to question who’s to blame.

“No, but here’s my instructions to you: “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” (John 9:4)

Well, as the story progresses, we notice that Jesus initiates his next move—“spitting on the ground, making some mud with the saliva, and putting it on the man’s eyes.” Then he tells him to go “wash in the pool of Siloam.”

The man does what Jesus says, and then he received his sight!

Whoa! Amazing! Beautiful! An absolute miracle!

But then we see that this “act” stirs all kinds of controversy. First, we see that the blind man’s “neighbors” had a difficult time comprehending how such “a miracle” could have taken place. Some recognized him as the “ same man who used to sit and beg.” But others said, “No, he only looks like him.”

And then we see the answer that the man gives to all his neighbors: “Hey guys, it’s me, it really is. Believe me.”

He then told them who, what, where, and how his blindness was cured.

Second, then it seems the neighbors (13) brought this man to the Pharisees to get their ‘take” on this unusual event. When some of the Pharisees heard that this man’s eyes were opened on the Sabbath, they immediately dismissed the possibility of this “man” being from God. But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” (16b)

Then the Jews turned to the man’s parents and questioned them. And his parents confirmed that this man was indeed their son, who had been born blind, but as far as “how he received his sight” we do not know.

Then the Jews turned to “the man” himself once again. In essence, they were saying, “Well sir, we’re going to give you another chance. We want you to declare that it was God who healed your blindness…and not this man (Jesus). For we know beyond a shadow of a doubt this man is a sinner.”

To this the formerly blind beggar responds, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (25)

And then, more of the same questions and accusations, “You are this fellows’ disciple!” And then they sort of imply—“Ok, we admit it, we can see that you can see, now! But that does not mean that you can see because of what this “Jesus” told you to do.”

And then we see that the man is not shy about restating his views on the whole event. Indeed, he gives them a lecture. He says in essence: “Wow! I can’t believe you guys. This guy (Jesus) opens my eyes, which is unprecedented, and yet you are not even willing to give this Jesus a hearing or be “open” to the possibility —that he is from God!”

And the Pharisees response: “What? Why you filthy little beggar! You… who were steeped in sin at birth-“How dare you lecture us!” And they “threw him out.”

So where was Jesus during this interrogation process? He must have not been far away. For when he heard that “they” had thrown him out he went to find him. It seems this Jesus was concerned about how this formerly blind man had “fared” under the harsh grilling and insults of the religious establishment.

And the first thing he asks is, “Do you believe in the Son of man?”

The man responds by saying, “Who is he, sir? Tell me so that I may believe in him.” In other words, “Hey, if you have any words of wisdom for me, hey, I’m all ears!”

Jesus responds: “You have now seen him; in fact he is the one speaking with you.”

And how does the formerly blind beggar respond? He proclaims, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him.

This man “gets it!” He responds to Jesus only as one ought to respond to God. He’s saying, “I don’t care what anyone else says or believes. All I know is that this man (Jesus) has shown me how much that he cares about me, and others like me. So I’m definitely willing to listen to what he has to say. I mean, I’d be “dumb” not to.”

And then Jesus summarizes what his actions are meant to do—and it’s rather eye-opening! (Pun intended!) He says he’s come into this world for judgement, to expose things for how they really are.

Jesus seems to be saying, “One of my purposes for my actions is to show those who feel left out, even forsaken, that I absolutely care about them and desire to comfort and heal them. But there’s also something that I ask of them in return… and that is to receive their allegiance, their willingness to follow me whatever the cost. “

And to those who feel they just naturally “see” and understand so much of God’s heart and ways he says, “You are the ones who are becoming truly blind, to all “true” understanding of God’s heart and ways.”

And what was the message behind Jesus’ stern words of warning. It was fact that they had closed off their hearts and minds to God’s care for the least…which ought to have been at the top of these “religious folks” list as well.

Next we are shown plainly that these Pharisees did not “get it.” For we see that couldn’t stop themselves from asking Jesus, “What? Are we blind too?” In modern day language: “O come on, Jesus, you can’t be including us in the category of the blind–of the unbelieving, of the uncaring? After all, we’re God’s people. You can’t be serious!”

To which Jesus calmly, but resolutely responds: “If you were in the shoes of this “blind beggar” (one of the least), well then, I wouldn’t hold you as responsible for your heart and actions. But it is by your own testimony that you yourselves say, “Hey, we love God. And don’t you know that we’ve been following him as strictly as we know how. I mean, we’re the righteous ones, right? I mean, we know for sure that we can’t be that far “off track.”

To which Jesus counters with: “Since you feel that you couldn’t possibly be “off-track,” well then, I can’t really help you… for you won’t admit your own sins and shortcomings.”

And this is where verse 39 confirms Jesus’ over-all intentions of his message and actions. He says, “For judgement I have come into this world.”

And what does this mean in this context? He’s saying, “Listen up everyone! I’ve come to reveal to you—to everyone—all you “religious folks (which can be a good thing!) and all you “not-so–religious folks” (which can be a good thing!) that I am the one who cares about the ones that so few care about or even notice.

“But even more importantly, I’ve come to give you myself, my very being, my very life, that you may see—clearly–the reason that I have come. And that is to ATONE for all of your sins—and that includes everyone! I’ve come to offer everyone a way out of feeling so lost, so hungry for the truth that constantly eludes you all. And it starts with acknowledging our own shortcomings. It starts with the admission that we are all responsible for the “state” we find ourselves in.

And this is why Jesus is the one and only spiritual leader who truly “gets it” totally right! Maybe that’s why he and so many of this followers are accused of being so narrow-minded. I mean, he tells us, that he is “the way, the truth and the life, and that no man comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

In closing, I’d like everyone to ponder this quote by the late Dallas Willard, a well-respected theologian and philosopher: “If there was a better way, then Jesus would be the first one to tell you to take it. And if you don’t believe that, then what you’re really saying is that you don’t have faith in him because Jesus would tell you to believe a lie.”

The only question left, “Do we “get it?”

Take care, Chris.

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14 Nov 2018

CCDA Celebrates 30 Years!

By |2018-11-14T20:12:53+00:00November 14th, 2018|General|0 Comments

HONORS JOHN AND VERA MAE PERKINS!

I was blessed to attend the 30th annual conference and celebration of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) here in Chicago this past Nov. 1-3, 2018.

It was a wonderful gathering of like-minded souls from all over the country—folks that have been called by God to live and serve amongst the poor in our inner-cities across America.

It was also a time to honor John and Vera Mae Perkins and their life’s work of racial reconciliation and leadership to Christians across this country for over five decades.

John had some challenging words for us all to ponder and wrestle with. He boldly shared that maybe we’ve “all” been asking the wrong questions…questions such as “Do Black Lives Matter?”

His answer to this question revealed his frustration with this current discussion in our society. “Of course, black lives matter!” he would have said. “All lives matter!” He went on to emphasize that we (especially those of us who call ourselves serious believers) ought to be embodying the truth of the gospel that we truly are “One Blood.” (Gal. 3:28-29) In other words, we all (black, white, brown, whatever) need to modeling before a broken and fallen world what “real” love and acceptance of each other looks like.

But of course we can not do this without Christ’s love and life living and flowing through us. And we also need to be Spirit-led and empowered by the Spirit. But if we allow these God “actions” to take place in our lives, then we will able to be used to “make Him known.”

And this is what my friend, John Perkins, would say “It’s all about!” How about you? How about me?

That is the question we ought to be asking ourselves—-“Are we making Christ known?”

We all owe a great debt of gratitude to John and Vera Mae for loving and serving so many throughout their lives. May Jesus bless and honor and keep them close to HIM till their final breath.

And I was also blessed to say Hi to John’s “sidekick”, good friend, and co-laborer, and co-founder of CCDA —Wayne Gordon and his wife, Ann , who have been serving Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood for more than 30 years. They, too, have been such an example of “modeling” Christ’s love and compassion and hope for those growing up in poverty. May Jesus continue to bless Wayne and Ann and their hearts for everyone who’s left out and forgotten in our American society.

Take care, Chris.

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