Monday, May 03, 2010
Making Someone Invisible
In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus reveals to us a man who was so consumed with himself, his possessions and his own comfort that during the course of his life he never really noticed this poor beggar named Lazarus who sat at his gate day after day. While preparing to preach this text a few months ago, I couldn’t help but see much of myself in the character of the Rich Man. Often my own schedule, needs, hobbies and comfort blind me from the obvious needs of those around me. It caused me to ask the question: who are the needy that are right in my midst, and yet are “invisible” to me? It’s sort of a scary question to ask. There are some obvious ones that immediately came to mind, such as the homeless in my community, the elderly widow two houses down, and even the young single girl across the street who desperately needs Jesus. But it wasn’t until a couple of nights ago that I realized there is a whole group of people that are often invisible to me, even though they are all around me. They are people with special needs and disabilities.I must begin by giving Tim a hearty "AMEN" on his observations regarding "special needs" people.
But as I reflected on his thoughts, I wondered what it was about us that makes us turn people invisible. What makes us so uncomfortable with the less fortunate?
I think the answer is simple - they remind us that we, in reality are also less fortunate. The only difference between us and them is that they cannot hide or deny their infirmities - they cannot pretend to be "normal." When we make people invisible we are hiding from our own brokenness.
And what is amazing is that that means such people have a very genuine ministry among us. But we can't let that happen, so when we do bother to notice them at all, we make sure it is some sort of segregated ministry so we can patronize them and continue to hide from our own brokenness.
SO I agree with Tim absolutely, we need to look around us for the people we have turned invisible. And when we find them, we need to embrace them - not treat them as odd. For they are not odd, they are simply broken people, just like us.