Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Glasses

This morning for our devotional, the staff and I watched a You Tube video called “Get Service,” a four-minute clip produced by Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas for one of their worship services, I would imagine. We all felt it was a moving and thoughtful reminder of the way in which our attitude determines how we see people, and I want to expound on its message further.

But first, you know it is the 21st century when a ministry staff watches a You Tube video for their devotional together. It would be scary if it weren’t so much fun.

The clip depicts a thirty-something man leaving for work one morning in his car. He has to stop suddenly to avoid a bike-riding boy in his neighborhood. Traffic is backed up at a big intersection and his commute is delayed. A lady scoots her car in front of his to take the last parking spot in front of the coffee shop. The coffee shop line of customers is long. The service is excruciatingly slow, meaning it takes him a whole four minutes to reach the counter. He gets increasingly exasperated at each of these occurrences and mutters angrily under his breath at all these inconsiderate people who deter the smooth progress of his day.

At this point a mystery man appears in front of him and gives him a pair of special glasses. These glasses allow him to see the inner predicament of each person he looks at. The boy on the bike is lonely and needs someone to care. The lady next to him at the coffee shop avoids relationships for fear of pain. The coffee barista is fighting an addiction. The mother with small children works two jobs to provide for them alone. The teenager leaning against an awning ran away from home three days before. The woman talking on her cell phone is grieving the loss of her best friend. The businessman with his small son just lost his job. The lady who took his parking spot, well, she’s just obnoxious.

The man is sobered and humbled by how self-absorbed and oblivious he has been, viewing people as objects instead of fellow pilgrims on the often-difficult and painful journey of life. The name of Jesus is never mentioned but the mystery man who gives him the glasses is the Christ-figure who says, in effect, “Spend a little time seeing people the way I do.”

Henry Thoreau famously said that, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” In my better moments as a friend of Jesus, I try to remember that most people have a bit of quiet desperation in their lives and could use a helping of kindness. Can anyone get too much kindness? Jesus tells us that the way we treat the least of people is a measure of our faith and devotion to him. But wait! He goes even further, saying that the way we treat “the least of these brothers of mine” (the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the sick) is in some way the way we have treated him (Matthew 25:31-46). To put this positively, the way we treat people can be an offering of worship, a consecration of faith, a service to Christ, while at the same time manifesting the love of Christ from us to others. Friends, this stuff is powerful.

People look beautiful wearing these glasses.


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