What Do You See When You See?

Do we see each other? What I mean is, when we look at each other do we really “see” each other? Have you ever had the experience of looking at a restaurant menu yet not really seeing it until you got down to business and made yourself focus? It is often the case when we deal with one another. “Hey, how are you doing?” “Oh, I’m fine, thanks.” “Great!” You know those conversations we have in the church lobby which seem to epitomize much of what we have come to know as “fellowship.” We look at each other, but really don’t see each other. I thought of this because of a story I read in the Chicago Tribune about an older gentleman who was found frozen to death in his home last winter. His name was John Pietraszek and he lived alone with twenty cats on the South Side, in the same house where he grew up. He was a friendly but reclusive 80-year old man who never allowed anyone into his home. He apparently had requested the gas company to shut off service back in 2003. He had money, always paid his bills and provided extravagantly for his cats, but lived in squalor. “The news that Pietraszek died of cold exposure sent shudders of regret through the neighborhood. Nearly everyone wished they had done more to reach out to … a man who was in plain view but whom no one seemed to really see.” This is a warning to us that the fellowship we experience within the church should be the kind where we really do pay attention to each other. The elders at Ephesus were told by Paul to “carefully consider” their own lives and the flock of which they were overseers (Acts 20:20:28). The writer of Hebrews tells us to “consider how to stir one another up to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). The word for “consider” in the Hebrews passage means to “brood over, to give careful thought.” Do we give careful thought to anyone else in our congregation other than our own family? Are we in a position relationally to brood over anyone’s brokenness other than our own? What about our engagement with our neighbors, like a John Pietraszek? Do we take the time to really “see ” them in spite of what they project? So often the Gospels record that Jesus “lifted up his eyes” or “looked up and saw” and then proceeded to act with compassion. We cannot act upon what we do not “see.” Just a thought…

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