Many of you have experienced the feelings of being pushed to the side, devalued, ignored or marginalized. Most of you experienced those feelings in junior high or high school. But with maturity and the maturity of people around you, you tended to avoid having to deal with these feelings on a daily basis. That is, until you had a relative or friend with disabilities, had some yourself, or you got older. Then it seemed you became invisible.
People tend not to see you when you walk into stores, churches, doctors’ offices, or wherever. Another way to describe it is that they treat you as a number, not a unique person. You aren’t seen as special. It’s very dehumanizing to say the least!
The worst affront is when the church treats people as if they are invisible…because the church is Christ’s representative here on earth.
It’s bad enough when we are treated this way in regular life. It hurts of course, but when we are treated as invisibles in church, it is much worse. Why? Because it is the complete opposite of the way Jesus would have treated us. He embraced people. It made no difference if they were blatant sinners, ceremonially unclean and even unpleasant to look at because of disease or damage. There is no indication Jesus showed repulsion to any of these people.
The local church is the representation of Jesus here on earth so you can see how distressing it is when the church does not truly represent Him. When we show favoritism to some people over others, care for only those that are like us, reach out to those that make us happy, we aren’t being the Church in the way Jesus wants. When Jesus came, He laid aside all the privileges to which He was entitled. Then He took on the form of a servant or slave. His whole life was lived in obedience to the Father. And in the end, He obeyed the Father by voluntarily giving His life for us so we would be forgiven our sin and reconciled to GOD.
The early church seemed to follow His example by ministering to those in prison, to those who were sick or suffering in a variety of ways. They seem to have followed His teaching given toward the end of His ministry.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you clothed me,
I was sick and you visited me,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will answer them,
‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:34-40 ESV
It was certainly more in line with the way Jesus lived while here on earth.He saw each person as an individual. He knew their unique need. He knew the difference between the need of the woman with the bleeding, the Samaritan woman, a blatant sinner, and the many other women He spoke to. He did not see Samaritan women as a group or even all women as a group! He was here to serve and ultimately give His life to pay for our sin.
You will notice how different His approach was with those who were sinners and knew it, versus those who were self-righteous and felt they were in great shape before GOD. He was considerably less kind to the latter group. But it was all part of His knowing how to treat each individual. But that is a story for another day.
As we think about being treated as if we were invisible and how that makes us feel, let’s stop to remember that GOD does not treat us that way. He embraces us. He loves us and cares for us. He does not treat us as if we were part of a herd. He knows we are unique…just like each snowflake.
He sees us as we are: made in.His image with inherent value and worth. For more on that, look back to Day 4.. in this series.