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Friday, March 8, 2013

The Vision Thing (16): Seeing the Needy

God's vision is tied to his compassion. He sees the needy people that others don't see, because he has a ceaseless motivation to meet the needs of all the dependent beings he has made. He sees, and so he wants to help. He wants to help; therefore, he sees.

This is best illustrated by the Son, God Incarnate. If you are like me, you expect to see Jesus paying attention to needy people that we are prone to overlook. And he does—for example, when he observes and calls attention to a poor widow, easily lost in the crowd, dropping a couple lepta (think a couple dimes) into the temple offering receptacle. Jesus sees this needy woman whom the rest ignored, and he honors her for giving more than all the rest, because she gave all she had. In this case, Jesus saw a needy person whom we all would agree was needy, but whom we would overlook.

But Jesus sees needy people in just the opposite fashion too. When a wealthy young man (Matt. 19:20), who happens to have been a community leader (Luke 18:18), ran up and dropped to his knees in front of Jesus, no one standing around would have overlooked him. Both his station and his unusually demonstrative action would have grabbed everyone's attention. But Jesus was the only person who saw that this rich man was needy. He lacked love for God, freedom from the possessions that possessed him, and the promise of eternal life. Jesus saw the needs that others could not see.

Jesus's vision of the needy was turned on all the time, and tied to his compassion as it was, he yearned for others to catch the vision too.
Then Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were bewildered and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest [Matt. 9:35-38].
(See John 4:27-38 for Jesus expressing a very similar wish in a different situation.)

This is the vision he wants you and me to catch. True vision from God is seeing what God sees, and what God sees are the needs of the whole world—the easily identifiable needs that we easily overlook and also the profound needs of those who appear to have it all together. If we have true vision, we will see both sorts of needs all the time, and we too will not be able to turn the vision off. And we will plunge in to reap a harvest as we urge God to grant his vision to even more.

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