The Rev. Jimmy Abbott
Third Sunday after Pentecost
June 14, 2015
II Corinthians 5:6-17
I am as blind as a bat. Without my glasses on or my contact lenses, I really can’t see anything. No joke – I have to to hold something this close to my face in order to see it at all. I got my first glasses when I was in fifth grade, and I started wearing contact lenses in sixth grade. Recently, I’ve been having some trouble with my contact lenses, so I’ve had to make a few trips to the optometrist. And you know the rigamarole, they sit you down in that big chair and swing that giant contraption in front of your face. With tiny little letters on the wall in front of you, the doctor flips the settings on that contraption and asks you, “is it better One or Two? Three or Four? Five or Six?” And just when you think you can see the little letters just right, the doctor says, “okay, now let’s do the other eye.” And the whole thing starts over again. One or Two? Three or Four?
As we grow older our prescriptions need to change. So we keep going back to the optometrist to get a tune up. That’s not unlike our journey as Christians. We keep coming back to God to tune up our spiritual life. To get a better prescription. So, imagine Saint Paul as an optometrist. He’s writing the church in Corinth and saying, “what’s better? One or Two? Three of Four?” He writes to the church, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.” Paul is saying that we were once blind, that our eyes could not see Jesus for who he really is. That we cannot see our neighbors for they really are. We see everybody and everything from a human point of view, until we put on our God glasses. So that we no longer see from our perspective, but from God’s perspective.
And that is an incredible grace. We no longer have to see the world from a human point of view. We no longer have to see the world in categories. Because that’s how the world treats us. The world says that you watch Fox News and you watch MSNBC. The world says that you drive a Lexus and you drive a Kia. The world says that you are educated and you are not. Just think of the advertisements we see for new subdivisions, the ones that say how much the houses cost. The world judges and categorizes us based on our accumulated wealth. That’s how we see the world, we regard the world from a human point of view.
Until we sit down in the optometrist’s chair. And God swings that big contraption in front of your face. Then you realize just how distorted your view was as the doctor flips through those settings. At first you thought the letter on the wall in front of was a “C,” but turns out it was a “G.” The “E” was actually an “F.” When we start our journey toward Christ our vision starts to change. Our God glasses get into better focus when we come together to be fed by the sacraments. We see from God’s perspective better when we read and meditate on God’s holy word. Jesus is the optometrist who is flipping through the settings so that we can finally see the world the way he sees the world. Where the world sees despair, we see hope. Where the world sees hatred, we see glimpses of love. We regard no one from a human point of view.
But then the real grace happens. We finally look at ourselves in the way that God looks at us. We look at ourselves in the way that God looks at us. We are told by the world that we aren’t enough. That we don’t have enough. The world ridicules us because we aren’t perfect even though we already know we aren’t perfect. But with our God glasses on, we look in the mirror and see ourselves the way God sees us.
With your God glasses on and looking into the mirror, you see God’s beloved child. A beloved child who is loved just as much as God can love. Look at ourselves with your God glasses on, and you won’t see someone who is defined by how much money you have. Or where you went to school. Or who you vote for. With your God glasses on you’ll see all that really matters, God’s beloved child. We regard no one, not even ourselves, from a human point of view.
When people ask me why I think the world is in such bad shape today; why kids drop out of school; why there is such violence and social strife; why we are the most addicted and medicated society in the world; I say it’s because we don’t love ourselves. We don’t love ourselves as God loves us. See, when Jesus said, “love your neighbor as yourself,” yes, he meant that we have to love our neighbors. But to do that we have to first love ourselves. And we can only love our neighbors to the same extent that we love ourselves. One of the problems with the world today, is that we are not kind to ourselves. We beat ourselves up over a mistake. We feel ashamed for not making a six figure salary. And to numb our pain we pour yet another drink or pop yet another pill to make it through the day. All that only shows that we don’t love ourselves. But in Christ, we regard no one, even ourselves, from a human point of view.
And that should change us. Saint Paul goes on to say, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.
You, then, are a new creation. In Christ, you are a new creation. Now only do you see yourself in new ways, but you are new. Of course, your body doesn’t change, and the things in your life may not change overnight. But that’s okay. Being a Christian is not about you. Being a Christian is about Jesus Christ. We are God’s new creation, by virtue of our baptism and by our continual gathering at this table. And – spoiler alert – that is what God intends for the entire creation. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, and throughout the storied history of Christian theology, there is one continuous refrain. God will make all things new. God will make all things new. The way we see the world when we put on our God glasses will be the way that the world actually will be on the Last Day. The Day when no one or no thing is regarded from a human point of view. Everybody and everything will be a new creation in God’s likeness.
This means that we are a sacramental people. Now – pop quiz – who remembers the Prayer Book definition of a sacrament? Outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. We, Christians, the Church – we are the outward and visible sign of God’s inward and spiritual grace. The inward spiritual grace is that God longs to make us new. God longs for us to love ourselves, to love our neighbors, and to love God. You and I walk around this world as a sacramental people. We are the outward and visible sign of God’s inward and profound spiritual grace.
So I ask all of you to sit down in God’s optometrist chair. And let God start flipping through the settings. One or Two? Three or Four? Watch the letters take shape on the wall in front of you. Watch the world become a more beautiful, lovely space. Watch yourself transform from someone to be exploited, into someone to be loved. Try on your God glasses and regard no one from a human point of view. Try on your God glasses and see that in Christ, everything is becoming new.