“Don’t Let Shortsightedness be a stumbling block for you, and for others, to follow Jesus Christ”

 

This title should cause you to pause to think about shortsightedness in two ways. The first way is how can shortsightedness be a stumbling block? By that I mean, how can shortsightedness – being narrow-minded, one-track minded, neglectful, careless – cause you to trip, to misstep, or lose our confidence? Secondly, how are we shortsighted with regards to the matters of Jesus Christ? How would we know if we are shortsighted when sharing God’s love? In contemplating answers to those questions, I ask you to consider these four scripture passages –Matthew 18:12-14, Matthew 25:34-46, 1 Peter 1:5-10, and Matthew 16:24-26. In these passages, we see what it takes to pursue someone on behalf of Christ; the perseverance it requires. Please look at how our shortsightedness can affect this perseverance.

 

Let us consider this example. Have you ever heard the expression, “well you can’t save them all”? The idea being that there is an acceptable level of loss. By making that statement, you could be you excusing yourself for failing to save people from their dire situation or circumstance. You might be blaming the ones who needed to be saved because they are the ones who strayed, or maybe they just did not want to be saved. For some people, another way of putting this is “the additional effort required to save them is not justified in expending because it does not, in their minds, have a high enough ‘return on investment’ (ROI).” This can lead to the kind of thinking that maybe we should focus on saving people when we have more than one to save so that we can maximize our efforts, or we should pick people to save that it is in our best interest to help. These are examples of shortsightedness.

 

In Matthew 18:12-14, Jesus helps us with this example. In that passage, Jesus talks about a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep to go seek one sheep that has gone astray. Jesus discusses the effort to search for the lost sheep and then shares with us the extreme delight experienced when the lost sheep is found. We do not know why the shepherd is so keen on finding the one lost sheep, other than it is one of his and he does not want the sheep to be lost. We are not told that this lost sheep had any special qualities. There does not seem to be any specific reason this sheep has to be found. In other words, there is no big payoff (no special return on investment) for finding this sheep. In fact, it appears that the other sheep were left unattended while the shepherd is looking for that one sheep.  The shepherd loves each of his sheep that much. Jesus is saying that is how much God loves us and to what ends he will go to reach us. Are we willing to do the same for God in looking for someone who is lost?

 

Jesus says you need to be willing to do so. In Matthew 25:34-36, Jesus lets us listen in on a conversation which compares the actions of individuals who helped people in their time of need to individuals who chose not to help. The first set of individuals helped because they felt called to do so. The second set of individuals say they would have helped had they been asked to. The second set of individuals fell victim to being shortsighted. They were neglectful not to see the need the others had, or perhaps the ones who did not help were shortsighted because  they were preoccupied with their own needs to notice the needs of others. Jesus cautions us not to be shortsighted.

 

Saving people or helping them with their problems or situations is messy. It is time consuming and requires patience. Our shortsightedness can interfere with our call to help others for Christ. Here are some of the statements of shortsightedness:

 

“I do not have the time.”

“I don’t want to get involved.”

“It is someone else’s turn.”

“I don’t know how to help them.”

“It won’t make a difference. They will just do it again.”

 

Peter, in 2 Peter 1:5-10, explains that we are to support our faith with goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. These are areas of our lives that if we pursue them in God’s love, they will help keep us from being shortsighted. Peter says in 2 Peter 1:9-10, “For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters,[a] be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble.” In each of these areas listed above, we are called to see how God is working in our lives. We are called to see if we are submitting to his will. We are called to see when we are resisting these inputs from the Holy Spirit in our lives.

 

We do not want to stumble. Jesus calls on a special journey with him. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus challenges people who want to be followers to “take up their cross and follow me.” Do not let shortsightedness make it so that you cannot find your cross to carry. Examine your life for shortsightedness that prevents you from seeing the sick, the naked, the homeless, and the ones in prison. Use the power of God’s love to open your eyes and you will not stumble.

If you have comments or questions about this blog article, please feel free to email me at revrobinson@ssumc-arl.org.