Luke 15:1-7 (NLT)
1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people�even eating with them! 3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 �If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won�t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, �Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.� 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven�t strayed away!
In these verses we find the religious leaders complaining about Jesus associating with noted sinners. They could not believe Jesus would even sit down and have a meal with such people. Jesus responded to them that a shepherd would do all he could to rescue one lost sheep and then rejoice when it was found and brought back to the herd. How much greater is it when a lost sinner is sought after, found, and then brought to fellowship with God. There Pharisees were shepherds of people, but they were not interested in rescuing sinners. Their interest was in condemning them for their sinful actions.
Let's suppose that on your way to work each morning, you usually stop at a Starbucks. You tend to get to the store at the same time each morning, and you usually see a young girl who gets there about the same time you do. On many mornings you find yourselves standing next to each other in line. In fact, you both order the same thing�double espresso with skim milk.
She seems to be into the gothic culture�black hair, black clothes, knee-high jackboots, black fingernails, black lipstick, piercings in the nose, lips, ears, and eyebrows, and scattered tattoos. She usually has a backpack that she has to take off to get her money, and sometimes it seems hard for her to hold the backpack, get the money, and pay for the coffee all at the same time.
She doesn't make too much eye contact with others. You wonder whether you should strike up a conversation with her�maybe offer to hold her backpack while she pays. You're not sure what to do with the whole gothic bit, and you don't know whether she'd give you a dark look and not say anything.
Should you try to be friendly? Maybe find out what brings you both to the same Starbucks each morning? See if she ever tries any of the other specialty coffees? Move toward greeting her each morning? Learn about other parts of her life? Yes! By all means! Move into her world. Make a comment one day about how the barista probably already knows both of your orders as soon as you walk in the door. Offer to hold her backpack while she pays. A couple of days later, tell her your name and ask for hers. If she misses a few days, tell her you hope she wasn't sick the next time you see her.
Why move into her world? Because with the eyes of a doctor, you see a hurt that God can heal. You see an anger and alienation. Maybe it's because of sexual abuse from a stepfather, a brother, or an old boyfriend. But you see the heaviness, the sadness. With the eyes of a doctor, you see a hurt that God can heal.
There's a man at work that everybody shakes their head at. He's been divorced a couple of times, and both of his ex-wives are suing him for past child support. He's a deadbeat dad�way behind on his support, sending them just a little bit, every so often. He's been living with another woman and her small child, but a couple of weeks ago, he slapped her around pretty hard. She called the cops, he spent a couple nights in jail, and she kicked him out and now has a restraining order against him. He's currently living in one of the cheap motels that rents by the month.
Every day at lunch, he goes out by himself to get a hamburger or a burrito, always coming back with mustard or chili on his shirt. Nobody talks very much to him, because he's too quick to complain about how everybody's taking advantage of him, everybody's pushing his buttons, everybody's squeezing him dry. Who wants to listen to that?
You've often wondered about being nice and offering to go to lunch with him. You like the same fast food he does�Burger King and Taco Bell and Subway. And you know Subway has a sale going on�three foot-long sandwiches for $10. You couldn't possibly eat that much, but it seems like a shame not to take advantage of such a bargain.
Should you invite him along one day? Yes! By all means! Move into his world. Go to lunch with him. When you get to Subway and you both sit down with your sandwiches and chips and drinks, ask him if he's watched any of the baseball playoffs. Who's he rooting for in the World Series? Mention that it's been just about the worst umpiring you've ever seen.
Why move into his world? Because with the eyes of a doctor, you see a hurt that God can heal. You see a bitterness at life, failing at relationships, blaming others instead of knowing how to change himself. You sense his fear of the future�no money, a criminal record on the books�and his desperation over being all alone in the world. With the eyes of a doctor, you see a hurt that God can heal.
Your company has a co-ed softball team that competes in the city league, and they're looking for a couple of extra players. You like softball. You like the feel of connecting on a pitch, running down a fly ball, making a clothesline throw on one hop to home plate to nail a runner trying to score. The first game is next Tuesday, and they're pushing you to join them.
But you're not sure. You like softball, but you don't know about playing with the people in the office. You went to a company picnic a couple of months ago, where there was a pickup softball game, and some of the guys were drinking a lot of beer, getting pretty raunchy in their comments about some of the women on the other team. Some of the wives of your coworkers were loud-mouthed, and they flirted with other husbands. The parents yelled mean things at their children but did nothing to control them. And in the parking lot, one of the married men from the office who had come to the picnic by himself was behind his pickup truck going at it pretty heavy with one of the single moms in the office. Do you want to deal with all that every week? Should you join the team? Yes! By all means! Move into their world. Get to the park, shag those balls, and run those bases. Bring some Cokes to put in with their beers. When one of the women on the other team lines it into a gap between center and left for a stand-up double, instead of questioning her sexual preference, shout out, "Great hit! Did you play in college?" Buy a cheap glove for the single mom's kid, ask if he wants to be batboy, have him sit beside you on the bench, and teach him the strategies of the game.
Why move into their world? Because with the eyes of a doctor, you see their hurts that God can heal. You see that the machismo and the raunchiness merely disguise insecurity and failure. You see marriages where there's no love and children that don't have the security of boundaries. You see the single mom's loneliness and vulnerability that puts her at risk of being deeply hurt. With the eyes of a doctor, you see the hurts that God can heal.
In life we can have the eyes of a judge or we can have the eyes of a doctor. The eyes of a judge see a gothic girl, a deadbeat dad, and a foul-mouthed team, leave us thinking, Why have anything to do with them? The eyes of a doctor see the hurts that God can heal. [Donald Sunukjian, in the sermon "The Eyes of a Doctor," PreachingToday.com | posted 7/12/2010]