January 24, 2021 From Invisible to Indispensable!
Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,
So, Paul wrote: “On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker
are indispensable.” (1 Cor 12:22) Paul is writing this truth about 3 things: 1)our physical bodies, 2)and the body of Christ = the church, 3)and the body of humanity = mankind.
Our theme for Life Sunday is: From Invisible to indispensable.
There are many different reasons why something would be ‘invisible’ to us. It may be hidden from sight because of /some obstacle, /a physical barrier, /or it’s a long distance away. Sometimes things are just too tiny. An atom, & most living cells, cannot be seen with the naked eye. Sometimes things are invisible because they are camouflaged & blend into the background. Other things seem to hide in plain sight. It’s there, but its always been there, so we ‘overlook’ it. Or, sometimes we are looking for something, but it’s so out-of-place that it doesn’t look right; we don’t recognize it.
And finally, there’s the ‘mental block’ or ‘emotional block’. That has nothing to do with size, location, or distance. Some things we refuse to see because we don’t want to.
We refuse to see the bad thing a person does because we like them too much; or we refuse to see a good thing because we hate that person so much. The 500 year-old saying is:
“There’s none so blind as those who will not see.” Many kinds of invisibility are fixable with /a microscope, /a telescope, /some eyeglasses, /getting closer, /or just uncovering the object.
But that last one, the willful refusing to see, that one cannot be fixed … not without changing the heart, or soul of a person.
On Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, we can relate to all these forms of invisibility.
At the very beginning of life, size is an issue. Your first moment of life was as a single cell, a zygote, one tenth of a millimeter across = like being invisible. Barriers were also an issue back then; hidden deep inside your mother’s body under the layers of skin, muscle & fluid. At first, your unusual form disguised you from being recognized; even under magnification, for a time, you just didn’t look like ‘you,’ even tho you were.
Then you grew in size & form. From a near empty single sphere, you quickly grew into a clump of many spheres, looking like a raspberry. By the fifth day, you already had a few hundred cells & looked like a balloon filled with water. In 5 weeks, it could be seen where your eyes would be, along with the tiny beginnings of your arms & legs. At 7 weeks you began to have fingers & toes.
At this early point, the world did not want to see you as human. But from your own point of view, *what else could you be? Thru all these different appearances, you were still you. From mere seed & egg, you could always confess back to God -Ps.139- “You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” Invisible to the world = sure; but not to God. Invisible to an unbeliever = yah; but not to US who can see by faith in Christ. For God & His people, faith completes our view of life, and sees more than the world can see.
Again, the Psalmist says to God, “My frame was not hidden from (Your sight), when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” (Ps139:15). When Isaiah prays for God’s mercy, he prays for God’s sight: “Look down from heaven and SEE.” (Is 65:15).
God told Moses, “I have surely SEEN the affliction of My people …” (Ex 3:7). And so, He brought His salvation, because He has SEEN us & our need. Think of the opposite: if God doesn’t SEE us, we have no hope; no hope /of rescue, /or help, /or comfort, /or a future.
That idea is also true of people around us; if people do not see us then we’re in danger.
Just like if we do not see other people, we can run into them & hurt them; or if we turn a blind-eye to them, they can suffer from our neglect. That’s why we often do things to make ourselves visible to each other. We put reflectors or lights on bikes to make kids safer; we put up safety cones or put on a neon safety vest. And needy people, who don’t want to be overlooked, will stand on a busy street corner & hold up a sign.
All of us do certain things because we will be seen. We do something with our hair or clothing. We make sure we’re doing something good when other’s see us. And sometimes, people choose to do something bad just to get noticed. Other creatures don’t think like this; God created humans differently, with a need to be seen. To not be seen is kind-of like being dead; like we have no value or use to the world around us. All humans, great or small, have this desire to be seen.
But this world is wicked; it gives or withholds sight & attention according to its own evil will. This is the world we’re born into; it’s the old nature that we -ourselves- have, & we will go along with the flow of the world, unless we live by The Faith with opened eyes.
In the world, the small & young can suffer from being invisible. So can /the elderly, /the poor, /the sick, /the addicted, /those who are struggling with sin right before our eyes can be overlooked. But God doesn’t want them to be UNSEEN. We might not see or recognize their need. Sometimes they’re good at hiding & don’t let us see; and sometimes it’s because we just don’t want to see.
Psalm 41 calls out to us: “Blessed is the one who CONSIDERS the poor!” This is what it means to be ‘pro-life’; we consider the sanctity of human life. To SEE is to ‘consider,’ /to regard, /to notice, /to think about, /to keep in mind & respect & care about. It means to see as God sees. By the Scripture, we believe that God notices /the smallest, /the oldest, /the weakest, /& the neediest == if He doesn’t, there’s no hope. So, as God’s people, WE are also called to notice people’s needs, physical & spiritual; the need to be protected from physical harm, & from spiritual harm. As a church, we consider ‘the poor’ in body, mind, & spirit; that they be taught, forgiven, fed & clothed & cared for. If this is what God’s expects of us, to not do it is sin.
So, the flip side of our obligation to ‘see’ or ‘consider the poor’ is that when we are blind to a person & their need, we are sinning against that person, and against the Creator who made that person, and against Jesus who redeemed that person. Whether that person is a fraction of a millimeter big, or a full grown person; whether they are capable, or quite dependent; whether full of strength & potential, or full of weakness & age. God’s people are to look & see & care for others == willingly, and with faith.
This is one of those things we must ponder about ourselves, & examine our own hearts & lives to ask why someone might be ‘invisible’ to us. *What things might prevent us from seeing our neighbor in that Godly view? +Are you the kind of person that is so focused that you can’t see past your own schedule & concerns? +Are you too busy; over-scheduled, so that you have no time to consider those around you? +Have you tried to care for others & got burned, taken advantage of, & rejected; & you don’t want to go thru that again.
+Maybe this idea of seeing & valuing human life at is weakest stages is a strange teaching, because we’ve accepted the world’s view that only the fittest deserve to survive; the young & dependent, the weak & old, are a drain on society. Of course, that’s how the animal world works, but God teaches that humans are different. *Has the world influenced us?
Maybe we’ve tried to speak up & value all human life, of all conditions, and we value marriage & morality, BUT the pressure of social shaming was too much; we can’t bear to lose our family, or friends, or speak up at our jobs. *What other parts of the faith will we allow family/friends/the world take away from us? *And at what point are we in danger of losing the faith itself? This is why God is in the business of calling us to repentance, so that we will not fall so far away as to lose HIS view of this life; so that we will SEE in the way He sees.
And in seeing, we will act & behave with the good fruit of the faith, and human life will be protected & honored among us.
THIS can be our daily prayer: ‘Lord, whatever our reasons for not seeing others in their need, we admit they are poor excuses, and we repent. Turn the eyes of our hearts & minds back to your blessing of ‘considering the poor’, and to defend, support, & care for the weak, the young & old & sick & forgotten as much as we are able. Help us to care for them as you have cared for us. Such a prayer could be a good reminder that we are forgiven thru the cross, and now we will be blessed by putting our faith into action for others.
Such repentance before God is not just aimed at our embarrassment or shame. To repent of sin, is to acknowledge that God’s judgement of us is right; we are often blind toward others.
Our repentance is a cry for God’s help. In calling us to repent, God is calling us to stop, to turn & to see Jesus = the Savior He has provided for us. That Savior SAW us & our need;
He was willing to give His all == to give His blood on the cross to forgive us of all our sin; including the sin of not seeing our neighbor in need. As Lamentations 3 says, ‘His mercies are new every morning,’ so that we can live with His view every day. He teaches & we learn to ‘practice what we preach’, so that we are growing up & maturing to be more & more like Christ in our lives.
About this maturing, John writes an interesting passage in his first letter. He says “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we WILL BE has not yet appeared.” (1 John 3:2).
One of the things this means is that even tho we struggle now & don’t do all we should do, we are still God’s children. Sometimes we do good, & sometimes we fail, but we are fully His children. There is no probationary time where we are trial-children-of-God but not fully children; there’s no junior or senior Christians. In His Holy Baptism and the Gospel promise, you & I have been ‘born from above’; young or old, rich or poor, healthy or sick, we all have the full rights as a child of God. That’s His gift & grace to us.
We can compare THIS to being members of the human family. There is no ‘becoming human’. Being human is not a matter of size, ability, or perceived usefulness. People don’t grow into human beings. Nor do they gradually weaken into non-human ‘vegetables.’
A zygote, a fertilized egg, is a human being, even if our earthly eyes have difficulty seeing our neighbor. Their body is not very mature compared to our body. Our body may not be very mature compared to an Olympic athlete or a mathematical genius, but we are no less human. We have full value because God says so.
When we consider our brother, Jesus, He is so perfect, mature, & powerful *how can WE compare? That’s like comparing a zygote to a healthy adult = there’s a lot of differences. And yet, The Father sees you & cares for you as a 100% human being. The percentage of being human does not increase from conception on, or decrease as you lose abilities and make your way to 100 yrs old. 1John 3 is speaking of all of us, in all our conditions, when it says: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” So we are.
Even tho You & I, & our neighbor, are like ‘invisible’ compared to the perfect human -Jesus-, and yet He has treated us as indispensable, worthy of His life-blood & mercy. God gave you life, body & soul. You are one of billions, and yet He calls you by name. God provides for you & protects you. And by the cross, He has arranged for your future with Him.
You & I have heard this gospel message before. But not everyone has, & they are our neighbor. Every day, new neighbors are being conceived, and other neighbors are /getting sick, /having troubles, /are in danger, /are being forgotten & neglected, /or are being treated poorly by the world, and considered useless, inconvenient, a burden on society & expendable. That’s not how God sees human life. That’s not how He has treated us; and so that’s not how we will treat those around us.
So, let’s recall that prayer from earlier: ‘Lord, whatever our reasons for not seeing others in their need, we admit they are poor excuses, and we repent. Turn the eyes of our hearts & minds back to your blessing of ‘considering the poor’, and to defend, support, & care for the weak, the young & old & sick & forgotten as much as we are able. Let today be a new day for us to see the invisible and to treat them as indispensable; and to value & care for them as you have cared for us.