Summary: In this sermon we look at what causes evangelistic near-sightedness and how to overcome that condition. This sermon is based on an excellent sermon by Dan Williams.
A. I like the story of the policeman who pulled a lady driver over and asked for her license.
1. After looking at her license, he said, “Lady, it says here that you should be wearing glasses.”
2. The woman answered, “Well, I have contacts.”
3. The policeman replied, “I don't care who you know! You're getting a ticket!”
B. Having clear vision and clear understanding can be a real challenge.
1. Take a look at these four pictures. Can you pick out the two images in each of them?
2. What do you see on the top left? (a saxophone player or a woman’s face)
3. What do you see on the bottom left? (a face or the word “liar”)
4. What do you see on the top right? (a duck or a rabbit)
5. What do you see on the bottom right? (the face of a Native American or the back of an Eskimo)
C. Do you have trouble with your vision?
1. Are you "near-sighted" or "far-sighted"?
2. Nearsighted people are unable to see far away objects, while farsighted people are unable to see nearby objects.
3. Most people over the age of 50 are far-sighted which means they can’t see things up close and require reading glasses.
4. I started needing reading glasses in my 30s, so I started very early.
5. Then a few years ago I realized that far away things were starting to get blurry for me.
6. I had developed a near-sighted condition, in addition to my far-sighted condition, so now I have bifocals.
7. Being both far-sighted and near-sighted is an aggravating, but bearable condition.
8. But what happens if a church becomes spiritually near-sighted, it is more than aggravating: it is a tragedy!
D. Jesus gives us a “vision check” in our scripture reading for today – can we pass it?
1. Verse 35 reads: “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest!”
2. What did Jesus mean by that? What kind of vision test is this?
E. Many years ago a Polish anthropologist named Alicja Iwanska visited the American southwest, and studied the values of the ranchers she met there.
1. She was interested in their "worldview"; that is, the mental concepts they used to understand their world.
2. She learned that when the ranchers looked around at their world, in their minds they divided what they saw into three categories: Landscape, machinery, and people.
3. Landscape included the distant mountains, the trees, the scenery, the environment.
a. Landscape was something you look at, and you enjoy, but you felt no particular interest in it and had no emotional connection to it.
4. The category of machinery included not only tractors and combines but livestock as well.
a. This category was more important, because it was valuable to their way of life.
b. The ranchers polished their machines and carefully cared for them; they valued their cattle and took a real interest in them, because things that belonged to the category of machinery were vital to the ranchers’ livelihood.
5. The last category was people: this included the neighbors who came in for a cup of coffee, the folks who cooperated in a time of need or emergency.
a. People were the human beings you grew up with, lived and died with, had business and social contacts with.
F. All of this sounds straightforward enough, but what really made her study fascinating was that Iwanska’s research revealed, in the rancher's worldview not all human beings were put in the "people" category.
1. The local Native Americans, for example, belonged to the "landscape" category.
a. To the ranchers, they were part of the scenery.
b. It was common for the ranchers to go sightseeing on a Sunday afternoon, driving down to the reservation to look with curiosity at the Indian communities.
2. The Mexican migrant workers, on the other hand, belonged to the mental category of “machinery.”
a. The ranchers valued the migrant workers in the way they valued a cow or a good fuel pump, for their productivity.
b. If a Mexican got sick or old, he would be discarded much like an old car.
[Source: quoted by William A. Smalley in Practical Anthropology, Vol. 5, No. 5, 1958- p. 701].
G. When we consider her research it helps us more clearly understand what Jesus was saying when he told the disciples to “Look at the fields.”
1. It is possible in our everyday life to “see” people without really seeing them as people worth caring about and who are in need of a Savior.
H. Consider the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4.
1. The text emphasizes three times that this Samaritan woman was an unlikely prospect!
a. First, she was a Samaritan (Verse 9)!