lock eyes with the culture

Our summer is quickly coming to a close, and a new season is coming. For me, it’s my senior year. My very last year in high school. At first I was a little terrified. Who wouldn’t be? This year signifies the ending of my childhood and the beginning of my journey as an independent adult. For as long as I can remember all I’ve wanted was to get out of high school and get out on a mission field, to share the love of Jesus with the world. Over the last couple of months God has been showing me that my mission field is wherever I am. I realize that now more than ever.  I’m so ready and open to allowing God to embolden me to be a light in my school. It scares me, but I am ready.

I’ve been reading this awesome book by Tim Suttle, called “Public Jesus”. It’s so thought provoking. In chapter 1, he tells the story of a woman at his church named Wendy. Wendy was driving on a bridge with her husband when she noticed a woman standing on the side of the bridge. She said, “Oh my gosh, Tom, she’s gonna jump! That lady’s gonna jump! Turn around!” Tom turns the car around, she hops out, broken foot and all, jumps over the guardrail and goes over to this woman. Wendy can tell the woman is distraught. By this time she’s on the outside of the fence. Wendy starts speaking to her, and the woman is crying, obviously upset. So Wendy reached her hands as far as she could through the chain-link fence and starts grabbing ahold of her clothing and saying, “You don’t wanna do this.” Wendy said that at one point the woman looked at her and they locked eyes. She realized in that moment, “I just have to maintain eye contact.” She kept saying words of hope to her and the woman was sharing a little bit about what was going on, why she was in the state that she was in, and Wendy’s holding on to her, and they’re locking eyes.

Tim then goes on to say, “I remember at the time thinking, that’s what it means to be a Christian. It’s that we lock eyes with the culture somehow. However it is, we’re just available. She was just driving to work. She wasn’t on the mission field. She’s not a preacher. She was driving to work and saw some woman in trouble, and she goes and she locks eyes with her and she holds on and doesn’t let her do this awful thing she’s planning to do.”

“Finally, the police showed up and a fireman in a harness pulled the lady off the ledge. But I think what lasts with me from that story is this image of locking eyes with the culture. Somehow, this is a part of what it means to be a disciple. We’re obligated and so we grab a hold of people and lock eyes with them, and we try to speak words of hope. When the rest of the world speaks or lives, desperation and meaningless and death and destruction and what does it all mean, we speak hope, we speak resurrection, and that this somehow changes reality.”

Ok, it’s me, Jessie. Wasn’t that amazing? It’s totally true and completely applicable. As Christians, we are called to lock eyes with the world each and every day. It’s why we’re here. Yes, we are set apart, but it is vital that we connect with the world. We can’t unplug everything, sit in our room, praying all day, waiting for Jesus to return. Our mission is to reach out and touch the hearts of everyone around us. In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus clearly explains what it means to be a human being in the world. I’m going to paste it in the message version because that version really brings the text to life.

13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

Don’t you just love that??? Our faith is public. Jesus is public. “We organize our common life together in such a way that we image God to all creation. We don’t separate out into a Christian ghetto: we lock eyes with the world and shine a light into the darkness.” We bring out the God-flavors in the world. We’re living in an imperfect world, where sin runs free. We have the power to reveal God’s love to the world, the power to look into people’s eyes and give them hope for a better future. “The church is to be the physical manifestation of the spiritual reality that Jesus is the world’s true Lord. We are not simply content to be going to heaven when we die and to sit idly by while the world goes to hell in a hand basket. We are obligated by our vocation as God’s image-bearing creatures to invade public space with the good news that Jesus is the world’s true Lord.”

So, as summer comes to a close, whether you’re going back to school, continuing work as a teacher, a plumber, a lawyer, or a receptionist, everything you do, no matter where you are, has a purpose. In every situation, you have the unique opportunity to lock eyes with the culture and speak life in to someone’s situation. Seize the day!

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