Summary: A sermon about "seeing."
“When the Poor Won’t Be Quite”
In their book, Justice in the Burbs: Being the Hands of Jesus Wherever You Live, Will and Lisa Samson write:
“The suburbs seem particularly designed to avoid facing the bigger issues of life.
It almost feels as if these communities were designed to avoid interruption by anything unpleasant or uncomfortable.
Planned developments have ways of controlling who comes near.
And electronic garage door openers seal the deal.
The burbs are safe, but they are safe at the price of keeping out questions of need, questions of poverty, questions of insufficiency.
In fact, they are designed to maintain an illusion of a particular life, the American Dream, where no one is needy, where there is a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage, and a boat, and those tools we never use, and a riding lawn mower…
Let’s face it—we don’t want to be bothered by those in need.
It would be too disruptive.”
We have made it fairly easy to ignore the poor and the beggar.
With our windows rolled up, our sunglasses on and our stereos blasting we don’t have to be bothered by the smells, the cries, nor the look of some parts of our community where people are living in what is akin to a 3rd world country.
As a matter of fact, we can be down- right blind to these problems—these fellow human beings.
Right before our passage for this morning, Jesus’ disciples had been arguing with each other about which one of them will be the greatest in the Kingdom of God.
They have listened to Jesus describe His mission, and yet they still don’t get it.
They have heard Jesus tell them that God’s Kingdom is not about power, position, prestige or any of that…
…but they remain spiritually blind to this.
So when they are leaving Jericho their minds are occupied with big ideas, inwardly focused goals and they aren’t ready for what is about to happen.
Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who sitting beside the road just wouldn’t keep quite!!!
He was shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, show me mercy!”
He was asking for attention, it was getting distracting—he was being a downright pest!!!
After-all, the people following Jesus know how beggars should act—most have learned to be quite, to hold a cardboard sign with a scrawled message on it, and simply smile or say “God Bless You” if someone stops to give them money.
But still, even these folks are annoying.
Sure, we know that some people are legitimately poor, but others are just lazy and shiftless, and they really make us uncomfortable.
Those of us who are not poor eye them with suspicion or even judgment.
“The poor get uppity about their poverty.”
“They demand attention and time as if they are entitled to it.”
“Perhaps the world could tolerate the poor a bit more if they would just be quite and leave us alone!”
It’s really no surprise that the crowd following Jesus “scolds” Bartimaeus and tells him “to be quite.”
The people following Jesus are too busy to listen to his complaints.
But Bartimaeus, the beggar, won’t shut up.
He keeps demanding attention.
And we are told that Jesus stops.
Can you imagine the people in front continuing to walk a few paces before they realize that they are alone?
And then they turn, puzzled.
“Why are we stopping?” they may have wondered.
Then Jesus tells the crowd, “Call [Bartimaeus] forward.”
Jesus doesn’t shout back at him and tell him to get up.
Instead, Jesus commands His followers to bring Bartimaeus to Jesus.
And this is “telling” is it not?
These are the very people who had been “scolding Bartimaeus” and telling him to be quite.
And if we think about it, as we hear Jesus telling His followers to call Bartimaues to Him, we can’t help but be reminded about other things Jesus has said about the poor:
“I was hungry and you fed me…As you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to me.”
So Jesus’ followers have to stop their journey because their Savior won’t budge until they pay attention to the beggar.
Could it be that Jesus will not allow the Church to move forward until the Church hears the voice of the poor?
Someone who attends our church came and helped with East Ridge Cares for Kids for the first time this past Tuesday.
And all afternoon, he appeared awestruck as he saw what was going on.
I invited him to ride back in one of the vans with me, to take the children back to the Superior Creek Lodge, the Day’s Inn and the Waverly Motel.
He noticed how many of the parents at these places showed genuine love and concern for their children as they were dropped off.