Learning to See Our Community through Heaven’s Prescription

Today is April 1, and we still have a few feet of snow in our yard. March brought storm after storm, and Spring is late in our part of the world. We might think it’s bad, but our exchange student from South America feels much worse.

He arrived on the 14th, just after one storm and in time for another the following day. We try to convince him this is not normal, and it will all be different, hopefully soon. It’s a challenge trying to describe to him what our community will look when all of the snow has melted.

We can all create a mental picture of the communities we live, work, and worship in. People, places, monuments, attractions. Our picture tends to include what we enjoy and are proud of. But what about those elements of our community we choose to keep out of our picture? Do we know what they are? Is our attitude toward them the same as Heaven’s?

Take your mental picture of your community and ask yourself: Do I see my community as God sees it? When God looks at the world around you, do you see what He sees?

Taking a Tour with Jesus

Imagine sitting at your home one day, and when someone knocks at the door or rings your doorbell, you open the door to see Jesus. He’s interested in your community and would like you to take Him on a tour.

As you go for a walk down the streets of your city or you jump into your car for a diving tour, where do you plan to take Jesus?

Chances are there are many places you want to highlight on your tour. Your church, local schools, sports complexes, monuments and memorials. If you live in a more picturesque location you might take Jesus up on a mountain to look down on the city, or out to the beach to enjoy some sun and water fun.

But there are also places you wouldn’t want to take Jesus. He might ask why you didn’t take Him down that street or into that neighborhood. “Oh, you don’t want to go down there,” we reply. “It’s dirty. It’s broken. It isn’t a nice place. Those aren’t good people.”

Now flip it around, and imagine Jesus arrived at your door to take you for a tour of your community. Where we would He take you? Would He lead you to the same places you wanted Him to see, or into those places you wanted to avoid earlier? How excited would Jesus be about the places and people you’re excited about?

We Need Heaven’s Eyesight

I received a call a few weeks ago from our local optometrist informing me how I am due for an eye exam. I’ve worn eyeglasses since I was twelve years old. I can read a book fine without them, but if I stretch my arm out in front of me, I can barely read the print on a postcard.

To help me see what needs to be seen, I need a prescription. When it comes to eyeglasses, you might fall into one of several categories of eyesight problems, and then narrow down to a very specific prescription. You may have guessed, I’m nearsighted.

In the case of seeing our community, we all have the same problems with our eyesight: preference, pride, and prejudice. But there is only one prescription: the eyesight of Heaven. We need God to help us see our communities as He sees them.

Part of being a follower or disciple of Jesus is learning to see as He sees. Here are some examples of what the eyesight of Heaven sees:

  • Jesus told the Pharisees, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).
  • As a picture of Heaven, Jesus told a parable about a king who invited many guests to a banquet, but they would not come. “‘The wedding banquet is ready … So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find'” (Matthew 22:8-9).
  • When Jesus returns, He promises to separate those who are righteous from those who are wicked. He will welcome and bless the righteous, “‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me'” (Matthew 25:35-36).
  • In His hometown, Jesus announced the beginning of His ministry by reading from the prophet Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19).

Heaven’s Prescription Leads to Our Mission

In the prayer He taught us, Jesus included a request for God to bring His Kingdom, complete His will, and let it be “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). As children of God, adopted into His family, filled with and led by the Holy Spirit, part of our mission as ambassadors of Jesus is to help facilitate the answer to this prayer.

In order to accomplish that mission, we must learn to see our communities as God sees them. To embrace what and who He embraces. To love what and who He loves. To go where He would go.

When we look at the world around through “rose colored glasses” or whatever filter our personal eyesight puts on our world, we miss what and who God wants us to see, and we fail our mission. But when we have Heaven’s prescription and God reveals more than we ever saw before, our hearts won’t be able to leave it undone.