“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
“Nothing can be more hurtful to your heart than betraying yourself.”
Roy T. Bennett
Now we’s demands a chance to do things for ourselves
We’re tired of beating our heads against the wall
And working for someone else, hu
Now we’re our people, too
We’re like the birds and the bees,
But we’d rather die on our feet,
Than keep a’living on our knees
In looking at the famous (or infamous) passage of Luke 4:18-19 where the Lord proclaims the opening of blind eyes, I decided to read what came before and a little bit of what follows after.
Before Jesus rejected the advances of Satan, Satan offered what should have looked like evidence that he could provide the God-man with the riches untold (the very riches that were a part of Christ’s creation before time). Satan’s plan was short-sighted, at best. It wasn’t even a temptation for Jesus because he had seen the path agreed upon by the Trinity before it was executed at Christ’s birth. Later, Jesus recites for clarity the vision He came to fulfill.
I choked up while re-reading the chapter. As a child raised predominately in Chicago’s urban landscape, I remember clearly seeing what injustice and unrighteousness looked like when my parents sought a better life for their children. I stood by my parents’ side, as enemies of justice and righteousness lied to my parents and other residents of those landscapes, causing us to be rejected for housing while forcing others to flee. At some point I can remember saying to myself, “When I grow up, I’m never going to be a part of a society or community that lies like that!” Lord knows that as much as I hate to admit it, and often unbeknownst to myself, my sight has at times been dimmed. I took sips of the infamous Kool-Aid that attempted to trick me into selling out and betraying the vision and purpose for which God created me.
In my life and career, I’ve had to be awakened, to have my eyes flushed out by the eternal truths that Jesus spoke to the crowd at Nazareth. That He came to restore sight to the blind. Systems, including those that are Christian, fed me a line that I tried to believe – that I was a vital part of God’s Kingdom to come, if only I joined them – only to find that the rose-colored glasses each group offered distorted my vision. I had to go back to the Great Optometrist and trade those in for clearer lenses. The lenses that God provides are embedded with our call to see and proclaim what His Word says:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24)
Lord, may our eyes be flooded with goodness, justice, and mercy. May our lenses undergo a continual washing in the never-failing stream. And may our short-sightedness be corrected so that we, too, may be restorers of sight and vision.
Felecia Thompson is Adjunct Professor of Formation at Northern Seminary, among many other things. She is a native of the south side of Chicago, a mother of two grown daughters, and has been married for 39 years to Steve.