Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jesus Glasses

"Can't see worth a darn."  I am pretty certain that's what it says on my personal chart at the eye doctor's office.  So I sport these not-so-cool-but-totally-necessary things that wrap around three-quarters of my head and drape across my eyeballs.  They are called "glasses."  When I put them on the world clears up.  These glasses are even more special than typical generic glasses.  They have a vertical line across them.  We call these "bi-focal's."  You have probably heard of them.  You might even have your own pair.  If you look above the line the world comes into focus.  If you look below the line the printed page comes into focus.  Now these have been around almost as long as the Cubs have been losing.  I even have a seriously shaded wrap-around pair for outside activities.  They save my life every time I slip behind the steering wheel.  (Don't laugh.  I'm sharing your highways.)  What my world looks like depends upon the glasses I am wearing.  The proper glasses brings the world into focus in a way that helps me to see reality.  No glasses at all and I just might think that ten-ton-truck cresting the hill ... you know, the truck I'm about to pull out in front of ... is farther away than he actually is.  That would be bad.  Or on a Sunday morning when I'm speaking from an elevated stage I might not realize how close the first step is and, well, it gets ugly from there.  In order to deal appropriately with the real world it is important that I am looking at it through the correct lenses.

That makes sense.  Right?  Nobody would seriously doubt that.  Here is the point.  (You knew there was one, didn't you...)

Last Friday I was enjoying a day off while writing a sermon in my home office.  (Note the irony.)  After a while I pushed back from the desk,  picked-up the remote, and turned the television on.  I found myself staring at a town I had never heard of, Newtown, Connecticut, and listening to a reporter tell a story I could scarcely believe.  You have heard it repeated a thousand times by now.  Twenty children dead.  Teachers dead.  A dead mother.  A dead shooter.  Like you, I spent the day rotating between broken, angry, confused, and a dozen or so other emotions.  And, like you, I'm still somewhat stuck in that rotation.

This morning I found myself at my real office at my real desk.  It is nearing Christmas which is nearing New Years which is pretty much the #1 reflective time in our lives.  My mind was drawn to those twenty kids and to the people that I have known in my personal life who have left me this year.  It seems that 2012 was a busy year for death.   Ashley is still floating around the top of my brain and I don't see any sign that those who knew her are going to get over her any time soon.  That's alright because it was Ashley who reminded me that maybe this is all about glasses too.  I hate leukemia.  I lost three ... count 'em THREE ... friends to that demonic disease this year.  And I'm hacked-off at it.  I'm broken, crushed, confused, angry ... all of those things I feel about the events of Newtown I also feel about losing my friends.  But here's the thing.  When it comes to the loss of my friends I put my glasses on.  I look at their departure through the lenses of scripture.  Or, if you prefer, through the lenses of Jesus.  Here is what those glasses brings into focus for me.  "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints."  Psalm 116: 15.  Or maybe you prefer it the way the New Living Translations says it, "The LORD cares deeply when his loved ones die."

God cares.  He does.  I could take more of your time (and I will if you want me to) and bring more truth into focus through the glasses of scripture.  Instead let me just summarize it all for you.  When you look at reality through the lenses of Jesus Christ you come to understand that God cares.  He cares so much that He acted.  He sent Jesus so that our separation caused by death would be temporary and not permanent.  Say that word.  "Temporary."  Roll it around on your tongue and then spit it out of your mouth in the direction of the nearest tombstone.  God makes it clear that those who die "in Christ" go home.  There is another really good word.  Home.  He tells us that home is much preferable to here.  Heaven (home) is better than earth.  Home is where our Father is.  It is the safe place where we all meet up after the battle of life on this fallen planet.  What happened last week in Newtown is beastly.  Evil at its worst.  Sadly the world has always had a penchant for sacrificing its children.  How many of the Jews killed in the holocaust were children?  How many were killed in the Rwandan genocide?  You do not want to know.  And it should make us furious.  It should also make us run for our glasses.  Our scripture glasses.  And then we will see reality more deeply than ever before.  We will see Jesus himself gently say, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."

We will never remove all evil from the earth.  That is God's job and He will most assuredly get it done.  But we can make great headway when we decide once again to take the children to Jesus.  I do  not believe it is over simplistic to say that taking away violent video games, guns, porn, and all of the things that bring pain and perversion to young lives will become elementary once we decide as a culture ... not one school at a time but one home at a time ... to teach them about Christ.

Put your glasses on friends.  You do not want to view this world without Jesus.