What Color Are Your Lenses?
36When He saw the crowds, he had compassion for them,
because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matt. 9:36)
Jesus viewed the crowds that came out to meet him differently than we view people of the world. We meet these people every day in our workplaces, in our schools, and in our daily associations. Simply put, we often look at the world around us through several types (and possibly layers) of lenses, which can distort our vision of those around us. Jesus viewed the world for what it was, and we as Christians must learn to view the world the same way.
When Jesus viewed the crowds in Matthew 9, “…he had compassion for them”. This is further evidenced by Jesus’ constant healing of every sort of ailment, ranging from blindness to leprosy even to death in the case of Lazarus. In John 11, we find further proof of the heart of Jesus, and the compassion and emotional connection He had towards those around Him. In v. 33 we find that Jesus “…saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled.”
Why would Jesus have had compassion on the crowds around Him? We find the answer in His comments to the disciples in the verses that follow. 37Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. This is immediately followed by the sending out of the twelve apostles to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6) So why did Jesus have compassion on them? Because they were lost! They were “harassed and helpless”, and devoid of leadership and salvation! Jesus viewed the world for what it was, a place filled with spiritually lost and dying people desperately in need of spiritual healing which only He could provide! He looked upon this world with sorrow and compassion, much as he looked upon Jerusalem in Matthew 23 and pined to gather those people together as a hen gathers her young! It is not coincidence that we read of Jesus’ compassion for the people being immediately followed by His sending out of the disciples among them. In fact, it was Jesus view of the people that motivated Him to do so!
So then the question remains, what color lenses are we wearing? This is a natural logical conclusion based on our reluctance to respond to the call of the Lord of the harvest, and go out and start harvesting souls for Him! I would submit to you that our view of the lost either invokes or inhibits our going out “into all the world.” So here for your consideration are some of the lenses that we tend to view the world through.
Opaque. A word which means “unable to be seen through”. Simply put, we often ignore the lost. Our behavior would indicate that we simply do not wish to see the lost at all. So we don the “blackout” lenses and ignore the lost. It is easy to become so self-righteous that we do not feel the need to see the lost as they are. It is far easier to simply acknowledge their existence in the world, and the fact that “they” are not in the Lord’s Body and give lip service to the idea of preaching to the lost. Problem is, the lost is not simply “they”. “They” have names, and jobs, and children, and lives that do not yet know the peace and saving power of Jesus Christ! “They” is your neighbor. “They” is your partner on the job. “They” is your best friend at school. The person that cuts your hair. The person that does electrical repairs in your house. Besides, if we actually could see the lost for who they are, they would stand as an indictment towards us for our lack of bringing the message to them! “If I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand." (Ezekiel 3:18)
Green. The color of jealousy and envy. Do we not often look at the world not with compassion for their spiritually lost condition, but instead envious of their wicked lifestyle! How corrupted are we when we look at the “fun” those around us claim to be having, and wish that we could take part! The truth of the matter is this: If we view the sins and corruptions of the world around us longingly, it is only a matter of time before we partake in them ourselves! We do not find Jesus wistfully looking at the sinful practices of the world around Him! It is awfully hard to motivate oneself (or others) to go out into all the world when we would rather be doing what the world is doing! Jesus looked on the world with compassion over their lost condition, and so we must also. The world must be changed, not longed for. Remember the words of the old song: “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through…”
Rose. These colored lenses are best described by the John Conley song from the late 70’s, which said “But these rose colored glasses; That I'm looking through; Show only the beauty; 'Cause they hide all the truth.” And indeed we tend to want to look at the world in a way in which we cause ourselves to believe that “everything will be okay.” We look at people and think “Well, I know that person isn’t a Christian, but he/she is a good person.” We tend to look only at the good qualities of people, and ignore the unrighteousness within their lives. These rose-colored glasses that we view the world through were unknown to Jesus Christ. The crowds that Jesus looked upon in Matthew 9 and on countless other occasions were viewed for the truth of what they were. Harassed and helpless. No doubt that these people that approached Jesus were interested in spiritual things! They had obviously left whatever they were doing to approach Jesus, which would show their good side! Jesus looked upon the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10, and “loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing:”. (Mk. 10:21) Far easier it would have been to just “round up” the young ruler because He was “close enough”. Jesus’ vision was clear, and His divine mission to teach the truth would not allow Him to do so, and neither can it allow us to!
Brethren, it is time to view the world with clear vision, as Jesus did. He viewed the world with compassion, and from that moment sent out his disciples into the nation of Israel, then the entire world (Mark 16:15) to bring salvation to the “harassed and helpless”. We must cast aside the caricatures, the lies, and the lenses that we view the world through, and start going out to the lost and dying around us because we see them as they are! Jesus come to this earth and died to be the Shepherd that the world desperately needed to avoid certain doom. We have been called to go out into a world that is ripe and ready for harvest. If we will begin truly looking at our friends and family through the eyes of Jesus, then compassion and motivation to act will not be on short supply.