Monday April 13, 2020
Jesus Sees Us
38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
When you’re in your closet deciding what to wear, when you’re at the dinner party deciding where to sit, when duties are being drafted for the team project, when you’re all alone in the house, when you’re in the middle of a crowd walking into a stadium, in all the important places where you are making big decisions, and in every seemingly insignificant place, the Holy Spirit is with you. There isn’t a moment in our lives where God’s presence is absent. The last words Jesus says to his disciples in the Gospel of Matthew are, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (28:20).
If we’re not in the habit of surrendering our thoughts and actions to Jesus, then we’re vulnerable to the stubbornness of our pride and selfishness. When we gaze too long in the mirror and care about being asked to special parties and banquets, when we want to be seen saying the right words and giving to church and charity, when we want our name recognized because of our contributions and achievements, when we want to be known by others more than we want to know God, then, we too, are like the teachers of the law Jesus is referring to.
Every thought we have, every decision we make, every action in every place, is seen by Jesus. He sees our heart when we give and when we don’t. His desire is for us to be so full of His Spirit that we think not of ourselves but only the welfare of other souls. One inspiring picture of this that we can learn and remember comes from Northern Africa in the 3rd century. The early Christians there didn’t stay away from the suffering when one of the worst plagues the world had ever seen was taking 5,000 lives a day. Many historians believe this plague could’ve been smallpox. Like Christ, who didn’t turn away from our plight and sinful condition but ran from heaven to our rescue, the church didn’t turn or run away either, but, instead, “Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains” (from the Easter Letter of St. Dionysius 260 A.D.).
In the midst of COVID-19, I’m not suggesting the church is being unfaithful nor am I implying that we should ignore our health experts and public officials who are all telling us by staying home we are doing the most good for each other. We need to listen and stay home. We have a vast health care system that didn’t exist in the ancient world. What I want us to see in the aforementioned response from the church, is the way God was their all in all. He was their treasure. He was their sole purpose. In the words of the great missions movement pioneer and former bishop in the Moravian Church, Count Zinzendorf, “I have one passion. It is He, only He.”
Is there a place in your life where you are trying to hide from God? Is there a part you don’t want him to see? Try inviting him in. Whatever it costs you will be a blessing that multiplies.
Prayer for Today
[Use the Lord’s Prayer as a framework and add personal praises, questions, confessions, etc.] Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. There is no other name above yours. Your name is holy. At the sound of your name, all creation sings for joy of the mighty works of your hands. You are worthy of all honor and praise. We rejoice that you have made known to us who you are through sending your Son. Lord, we pray that your kingdom comes and your will is done on earth as it is in heaven. We long for justice to roll down the mountains and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. We are your people who declare your favor upon this day you have given us. Move us by your Spirit. Conform us to your character. Give us our daily bread today. Lord, we depend on you for all that we need. You are everything we need, yet we often chase after idols. We run after the wind and take for granted your great gifts. Forgive us, oh God. Have mercy on us. Free us for joyful obedience as we forgive our brothers and sisters who have sinned against us. Lead us away from evil and the schemes of the enemy. Deliver us into your presence Lord. We long to be in your presence where goodness and mercy are our covering. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen
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