The Eyes Have it!

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Looking forward: Spring in our church grounds

Looks can deceive. But looking someone in the eye is a different matter. There is a saying: 'the eyes are the window to the soul'. Whether or not that is true, I have always found Jesus' dealings with people to be intriguing. Take the man in Mark, chapter 10, for example. He had a conversation with Jesus about deep matters of concern about his own faith and destiny.

In verse 21, we have an unusual moment when we hear that Jesus looked at him - and loved him. Was Jesus looking into the very soul of this man, because he seems to identify a stumbling block to this rich man's desire to embrace the Kingdom of God? 'One thing you lack, go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and come, follow me.' Jesus got to the heart of the matter. He looked at him!

I have spent a lifetime hearing that our mission as disciples of Jesus is to 'go and tell'. I was brought up in a Welsh Baptist context of pulpit giants. I've taken part in evangelical missions with the good and the great in terms of charismatic speakers. I'm not sure any of it really cuts the mustard in terms of modelling Jesus' ministry. Yes, he taught, he had in-depth chats with odd-balls like Zaccheus, the Woman of Samaria, the Syro Phoenician woman. He told stories and he offered advice gathered together for us in the Sermon on the Mount. He got angry with the establishment, with profiteering exploiters of religious sacrifices and with the treatment of outcasts. But he didn't seem to preach 'at' people the way Paul does in many of his letters.

A week or so ago, our Sheffield churches were asked to send in questions to ask a person exploring the possibility of coming to join our Sheffield ministerial team. One of the first questions suggested was, 'what is his/her view of sermons?' I wasn't present to hear the response at the Zoom meeting, but I did think it was time we stopped focussing on what might or might not be on offer in the Sunday service and think about how anyone, minister or otherwise, shares the love of Jesus with the people we meet.

Great preachers, assisted by the religious fervour of a mass meeting, may make an impact on many. But for me, the impact Jesus made when he confronted people face to face, eye to eye, heart to heart seems much more my kind of Christianity. I was pointed to an Amnesty International video, just four minutes long, which showed local Greek people coming face to face with refugees who had arrived uninvited on their shores. They were asked to sit in pairs and look each other in the eyes for four minutes. Words were not necessary. The impact was remarkable and made me think of that passage I quoted earlier. Do we really need to rehearse a message for those we hope to evangelise or should we practice looking people in the eye and risking getting to know them - and even more risky, letting them get to know who we really are? Have a look at the video, and see what you think...

The link to the video is below. I'm thinking it's time I stopped riding my hobby horses and did something completely different. If you've stayed with me this far, thank you for your patience and tolerance. After today, I'll be looking at some of my thousands of photos and offering one each day with some connections to thoughts and images triggered by revisiting them. Keep safe.

Mark 10:21

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