Pastor Dan Borgelt
There are so many different ways to see the same person, aren’t there? So many different ways to see the same person, but what we’re most interested in around here at Kirkmont is making sure that we are seeing people the way that God sees them.
So let me just ask you, “What type of person or what group of people are the most difficult for you to see, to look at, and to see them the way that you at least imagine God sees them?”
- I suspect for some of you it’s when you’re out in public and there’s that kid that’s throwing some kind of a tantrum of some kind and you’re looking at that child when they’re complaining and whining and screaming, and you are having a really hard time seeing that child the way that God probably sees that child.
- Or maybe for some of you it’s not the child that you have a problem seeing the way that God sees them, but it’s the parents of that child; and you think to yourself, “If only that parent was more responsible, if they were a better parent if only they would listen to some of the advice I have their child wouldn’t act that way.”
- Or maybe it’s when you’re driving around and you see someone’s bumper sticker and it reveals to you who they voted for, or what they stand for, and you just have a hard time, based on that alone, seeing that person as God probably sees them.
- Maybe it’s when you see someone’s car or their clothing or the condition of the home they live in and you perceive them to be someone who’s economically poor and from there your mind just goes to a place where you say, “Well they would have just made better life choices and decisions then they wouldn’t be in this circumstance.”
- Or maybe you’re the opposite here and it’s when you see someone who drives a car of a certain kind, or clothing of a certain brand, or lives in a certain neighborhood, you have a hard time after that point seeing that person perhaps the way that God sees them.
- Maybe it’s when a woman who’s dressed provocatively walks into the room and you don’t have the maturity to see past perhaps the attention she was seeking or not seeking. You don’t have the maturity to see them the way that God sees them.
- Some of you ladies might have the same problem when a woman walks in wearing attractive clothing. Your mind goes to other places but you still have a hard time seeing that person the way God sees them.
- Or maybe it’s the way some guys dress, the color of his clothing or the holes in his clothing or the style of his clothing or whatever it might be and just whatever it is, it’s the trigger for you, it’s like a block that keeps you from really seeing them the way that God sees them.
- Maybe for some of you, it’s like a whole age… like you just you just find yourself saying “Young people these days!” Or some of you just need to be reminded or hear perhaps for the very first time that old people are people. You have a whole problem with an entire generation of people.
- Or maybe for some of us, it’s race or ethnicity. You watch the news and someone of a certain race or ethnicity does something, commits a certain crime, and in your heart of hearts you find yourself saying, “That figures”.
What is it about a certain person that keeps you from seeing them the way that God sees them?
I think if we’re honest here this morning that all of us would have to say that we can identify with probably one of those groups if not multiple ones, or maybe one that I haven’t mentioned, all of us can identify in some way. We have these trigger people who are just really hard for us to get past something externally, and see them the way that God sees them.
There are so many different ways to see the same person, but what we are most interested in here at Kirkmont is seeing people the way that God sees them. In fact our Big Idea for you this morning is that,
We are supposed to see all people the way that God sees them.
And there is perhaps no better Scripture in all the Bible to remind us of the fact that sometimes religious people don’t see other people the way that God sees them better than a Luke chapter fifteen.
Luke 15, starting in the first verse we’re going to turn this passage of Scripture in your Bible, or put it up on the screen if you don’t have a Bible with you, and we’re going to look at this and see how often and how easy it is for religious people to not see people the way that God sees them.
In Luke chapter fifteen starting in the first verse, the Scripture tells us this.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.
So Jesus is speaking to a group of people who are there and they’re referenced as tax collectors and sinners, neither of whom had a good reputation. What’s the Bible mean when it says sinners? Because elsewhere in the Bible it’s very clear that all of us are sinners.
So when the Bible says ‘sinners’ what it’s speaking about is a particular group of people whose sin is so pervasive and so public, it’s so external in its nature, so commonly known, that people are unable to see past that sin and they merely classify them by that sin that is known. and they call them “sinners“.
These types of people — they’re what some today might call the worst of society, who are listening to Jesus teach.
Now they’re not eavesdropping, it’s not like He’s teaching other people and they just kind of snuck in and they’re eavesdropping… you gather from the context that Jesus is there to teach them. He’s intentionally spending time with these people… (shown in verse 2)…
2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
LARRY – MEDITATE ON THIS then uncolor before publishing
So apparently the religious people of the time have a problem with the fact that Jesus is in this setting, that he’s in this context. They see the people that Jesus is eating with differently than Jesus sees them… I think it’s fair to say.
This passage of Scripture that Jesus walks them through, is simply going to invite us to be challenged by whether or not we see the people around us the way that the Pharisees in the passage of Scripture sees Him, or whether we see them the way Jesus them.
Jesus tells them this story meant to teach a lesson…
3-7 Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
So Jesus speaks this parable to them about a sheep, and this guy who’s got one hundred sheep and he loses one of them.
Now what really ought to jump out at us in this opening parable that Jesus teaches, is the nature of how the man who lost the sheep feels towards the lost sheep; and I think the passage is meant to teach us that the man who has lost the sheep has a genuine concern, and care, and compassion for the lost sheep. The sheep is a value to him; he likes the sheep; he wants the sheep to come back into his fold.
He doesn’t say to himself, “That sheep. I told that sheep like five times not to leave the sheep pen. That sheep is going to get what it deserves tonight. I’m telling you it’s going to be cold out there; he’s not going to have food; some predator might attack it… he doesn’t treat those people outside of the folds that way. Instead, he responds to the sheep with genuine compassion and care.
One sheep out of a hundred.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
Jesus ups the ante and he goes on and He says,
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins…
Some of you’ve heard me say this before, that the passage is intensifying — it goes from a sheep to currency now, genuine real hard money; He goes from one out of one hundred to one out of ten.
8-10 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
We get a very similar parable here. But again, we said it intensifies. Again we walk away with the understanding that this person has lost a coin and their attitude towards it is such that they want to find it.
They see it of value… it’s something they want to bring back into their midst.
The Parable of the Lost Son
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.
‘~Okay Pharisees, just in case you hadn’t made the connection yet, we’re not actually teaching you about how to value sheep and coins, we’re talking about people.”
It wasn’t sheep that Jesus was accused of eating with… although that would have been… maybe, I don’t know, more likely to be accused of that in my eyes. It wasn’t his currency — relationship with money that he was being accused of, its what people he was eating with.
So Jesus now intensifies it from a sheep, to coin, to a son. From one out of a hundred to one out of ten to one out of two.
“There was a man who had two sons.
We’re talking about people, we’re talking about seeing people the way that God sees them. And you guessed it one of them is going to become lost.
12-22 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
And so Jesus finally teaches the Pharisees that he’s not talking to them about how God sees sheep, or how God sees coins. but he is talking to them about how God sees people.
And not just people, but people whom the Bible calls “lost people” — people who are currently outside of a relationship with God, and some of you identify with that. You should know you’re welcome here, you should hear what God is saying to you this morning.
Some of you identify more with the lost sheep that is found, than the ninety-nine; more with the lost coin found than the other nine, and more with the lost son than the one that we’re going to read about who is found.
He speaking to us about people outside of the community of God — people who don’t have a relationship with God — the very people who often — those of us who consider ourselves to be followers of Jesus Christ — have a hard time seeing the way that God sees them.
And we discover the heart of God as if someone found something of incredible value and has brought it back into their presence… with rejoicing, God sees someone who doesn’t have a relationship with him, the prospect of them coming into relationship with Him.
You see this is important because if we’re ever going to see people the way that God sees people we’re going to have to have the heart for people that God has for people, and here we see the heart of God… rejoicing, genuine care, concern.
But we discover that he’s teaching us not only about the heart of God, but he’s addressing the heart of the Pharisees — a heart that maybe some of us are willing to identify and confess this morning.
25-29 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field (the Pharisees). When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.
Isn’t this kind of thing we as Christians can do as we start to live our Christian life long enough? Eventually, we start to get some of the law that God has for us down pat by God’s grace and mercy. We forget that it’s by His grace and mercy and soon we’re bragging about the righteousness of our own life, we’re looking down on the unrighteousness of other people’s lives and it was all because of the character of God to begin with.
Here’s the older son the Pharisee saying, “But I’ve never done this!” He’s comparing his moral right,his resume to those around him. He says,
30-32 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
We discover in this passage not only the heart of God But we also discover the heart that God’s people should have as well.
And we’re meant to pause and let the Scripture sort of marinate and speak to the condition of our hearts and say… as we read this passage, as we look at people in the world, do we see them more like Jesus would have seen them, or do we see them more like the Pharisees would have seen them?
The Pharisees saw them very differently.
And if you’re like me it’s like one of those things that some days you do better than others at. Some groups of people, you do better at others than.
The Scripture elsewhere goes on to tell us that not only then is this something that we’re supposed to long for a desire to see people come into a right relationship with God, but that we are actually active agents in this whole process — that because we see people with the heart of God, we then participate in the reconciling Ministry of the heart of God.
In Second Corinthians, chapter five the Scripture tells us this.
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord,
In other words, we know what it is to see the world through the lens and the eyes and the perspective of God; to see people through the lens and the eyes and the perspective of God, and to desire to align our lives with the character of God.
we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to [then] persuade others.
… what an interesting word… we participate in the process of persuading others towards Jesus Christ.
This is not a popular thing in our culture and our society it’s considered to be unkind or judgmental to try to persuade someone into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
But the Scripture’s not inviting us to do this in some sort of harsh way, it’s not inviting us to do this from someplace that is unethical, or ungenuine, or unreal, but what it is inviting us to do is to come alongside relationally those people who are broken so that when they wake up and realize that they’re actually feeding pigs or eating off of pigs’ food and living in the pit of miry pigs, that we then encourage them and point them to The Heavenly Father.
We remind them or tell them for the very first time of a Father who will rejoice over their presence over them coming into his presence. We point them in the right direction and if need be we walk them all the way to the father’s doorstep.
That’s what it means to persuade men to see ourselves, in the story of Luke fifteen, coming alongside people who have turned their back on God, have walked away from him, and when the hit rock bottom were there with them, because we care about them and we’re pointing them then back to The Heavenly Father.
Paul the Apostle Paul who wrote this made his life about persuading people to go back into a relationship with a loving heavenly Father.
11b-14a What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us,
For Christ’s love compels us… this is the what drives us and motivates us to be in relationship with those as Jesus was in relationship — that the world calls sinners — what drives us and compels us to be in relationship with them, and to point them to God, is not that we might receive God’s love–that somehow he’ll love you more if you are the friend of sinners and pointing sinners in his direction, you’re not going to get applauded by the church, we’re not going to honor you or recognize you in that way.
What drives us and motivates us is not in order to earn God’s love, but it’s his love that compels us and pushes us in the first place.
It’s out of genuine, honest sincerity; and I think the world has had too many people who call themselves religious, try to persuade them from some other place than Christ’s love. And we’re clear we’re talking about being compelled by Christ’s love because…
…because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Now hear this because this verse sixteen is really why I brought this passage in–it’s perfect for our whole message this morning, this idea of seeing people the way that God sees them. Paul says,
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.
What better passage to remind us of the idea of seeing people the way that God sees them. From now on we’re not going to regard anyone from a worldly point of view.
“To look at someone from a worldly point of view” means:
– to see their socioeconomic status and not be able to look past that;
– to see their attractiveness or their lack of attractiveness in your eyes and not be able to look past that;
– to see their racial ethnicity and not be able to look past that;
– to see their obvious sin in their lifestyle and to not be able to look past that.
All these types of things that are sort of roadblocks, stumbling blocks from us seeing people the way that God sees them, is what it means to regard someone from a worldly point of view.
And Paul, in this, confesses that he used to do that…
from now on…
From now on, right? From now on… it’s like we don’t do it anymore!
And in fact, he even confesses specifically that they once regarded Christ in this way… and he’s not going to do it any longer. He regarded Christ from a worldly point of view; he didn’t even see God the way that God was supposed to be seen, let alone other people the way that God saw them.
And so it is in our hearts, it was in Paul’s heart, it is in our nature to only see people and look at them naturally and not to see the incredible thing that they can become by God’s power Spiritually, for it’s the Scripture that says,
17 …if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone,
‘Man’, when we’ve refused to see people the way God sees people and deny that in Christ they can become a new creation we alternately show our lack of faith in the power of God.
We show our lack of faith in the power of God and what He can do in someone’s life. And we could fill this room with testimony after testimony of those of you who have had your life radically changed because of the power of God to remind us that no matter who we’re seeing in the world no matter what we’re perceiving, in Christ that person can become a new creation; God can do an amazing work in their life.
And once we become convinced of this, and we start realizing the heart of God towards those who are outside of a relationship with God, and we start trying to persuade them, no longer viewing them from a worldly perspective but starting to try to persuade them to be in right relationship with God, it’s going to change how we spend our time, and more specifically perhaps, who we spend our time with.
In Matthew chapter five as we wrap up our time together this morning, we are reminded not only about how we spend our time but also who we spend our time with.
There’s this constant tension in the life of the follower of Jesus Christ, that we often wrestle with and that is, on one hand we’re hearing that:
- we should go to church,
- we should go to Sunday School,
- we should be in a Bible study,
- we’ve got all these other church functions that we should go to,
- there’s value in being around each other and building each other up and stuff,
But how do we balance that with our real-world relationships around us with people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ? How do we wrestle with that tension?
Matthew chapter five is just a great reminder as we wrap up together this morning that this whole subject of seeing people how God sees them is going to have to change who we spend our time with and how we spend it. Jesus says to disciples,
14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let_your_light_shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us who are followers of Jesus Christ, our Light that is shining has only been brought into the presence of other people who have the same Light shining for a long time now.
And the Scripture’s inviting us to go ahead, to be the light of the world, and what good does it do to be the light of the world and not to be willing to enter into the darkness of the world? …to not enter into relationship with people, and in settings with people who are already not walking in right relationship with Jesus Christ.
I know people wrestle with the tension of like, “Yeah, but I mean if I do that, what about my own personal holiness and my own character?”
Those of you who are in a small group doing the Treasure series, you are going to watch a video where one of the guys deals with that tension. He’s a young, single man who’s a Christian, and a coworker invites him to have drinks after work. This other guy says all the waitresses there are really good-looking or something like that, and that’s why he’s going to that bar.
And the Christian man is torn… and first essentially he says, “No,” he doesn’t think he should go because of a desire to guard his own righteousness. But he also has this whole Jesus is a friend of sinners kind of thing going on, and eventually he shows up — spoiler alert, sorry. [LAUGHTER]
And here’s the thing you know when they talk about rescuing people the first thing they always say is something like, “You’ve got to anchor yourself in… put on your own oxygen mask first…” those types of things.
If you can imagine someone who’s fallen over the edge of a cliff and who needs to be rescued before they fall all the way down… and you’re only going to be willing to go as far into that danger zone as you are confident that you’ve been secured and anchored.
There are so many churches that teach such a wimpy, weak version of salvation that their people are unwilling to go into the darkness at all because their own salvation is constantly under threat.
But here we believe that Jesus has secured our salvation through this very incarnational ministry that we’re talking about, leaving the heights of heaven and all of the angels around him, coming, being dependent upon the conditions of humanity, obedience to the law, mocked by those whom will someday kneel and worship Him, crucified, dead, and buried in a tomb three days.
He went to that great length to rescue that which was lost.
Our salvation is secure in him; and he is not only giving us permission, he’s urging us out of a place of that security of salvation to go step into the darkness, to step over the edge, take hold of a brother or sister who does not have a relationship with Christ… and be used by God to point them back to a loving_heavenly_Father.
Lord we thank you for these passages of Scripture. We thank you for this main topic of today, this challenging topic… at least for me, probably for others in the room as well. We confess to you that we’re really far away from being in a place where we really see everyone at least the way that you see them.
So I don’t know maybe our parents taught it, maybe the culture taught it, maybe just in our own sinfulness… whatever it is, we ask Your Spirit which lives inside of us to drive that away; that it would soften our hearts in that area.
We pray that we are the type of people who are not concerned about what other religious people might think — how they might criticize us, or who we hang out with, but we are the type of people who we spend time with and how we spend our time with them is shaped by the heart of God.
Some of us have people in our life right now who You are bringing to mind.
We talk about being used by you to help rescue them, help point them back to a loving Father, and maybe some people in this room are just immediately thinking of a friend, a classmate, a coworker, a spouse or some other family member. Maybe they just want to pray for that person right now….
Thank you Lord for rescuing us, and then we ask these things in Christ’s name. Amen.
Link to Kirkmont Presbyterian Church Website
Listen to recent sermons