Maybe you drive by and don’t see a person there at all. But you instinctively roll up the window and lock the door as you near the stop light.
Perhaps as you turn on the road that leads into your neighborhood, you spot one or two sitting on the curb behind the 7/11 and think, “Oh boy! There goes the neighborhood…”.
When you drive down Broadway and see a bent figure in a heavy coat midday pushing a Walmart shopping buggy, you think, “What a bum? Does he think he can just run off with Walmart’s property like that??? Probably will litter the corner with it before nightfall”.
Probably the moment you step out of a favored restaurant and find a beggar greeting you and asking if you can spare a couple of dollars or some loose change, your first reaction is fear, followed by disgust, but quickly tempered by your Christian concern that Jesus would expect you to care. But then you look around to see who is watching as you fish out a dollar to give, and yet you feel troubled that your gift may very well fund a drinking binge.
Maybe you identify with one, any or all of these scenarios. I go to Sunday school classes where my Christian brothers and sisters talk about these experiences. I read them on blogs. People even write books about this stuff. So, let’s face it; this stuff is rather common.
But you know what? I see beauty hidden there in plain sight.
I want to show it to you.
Have you ever gone in search of a person in need? Ever drive down in the part of town where you know you will find one and get out of your car, walk up to the person and strike up a conversation?
Even once in your life?
Ever tell a person in such a circumstance that you are from such-n-such church and your group was praying for needy people the other night, and now you want to ask what need Jesus might fill in their life?
Ever do that? Even once in your life?
Then you are missing the beauty hidden in plain sight.
I see this beauty because I see Jesus there, not just a bum, but Jesus – the Jesus of the Bible who says that he is “the least of these… the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the stranger…”. Yeah, that’s him! He says so. And Jesus, well, Jesus is a beautiful person hidden right there in plain sight. And you can seriously introduce yourself to him in that way that truly offers humility. That way that recognizes loving him is going to change your life. That way that recognizes this isn’t going to be comfortable, but actually a bit scary. That way that recognizes this is gonna cost you, make you look and feel foolish, and may end in utter failure.
Then you will realize that there are no other terms in which to really meet Jesus.
And so when you pray with a needy person who has no roof over their head, no steady income, no food security, and you listen to this person talk to Jesus and express trust in him, you sense quickly that you are in the presence of Holiness. This person may have a serious drug addiction and serious body odor, but you see hidden right there in plain sight a trust, a desperate trust, in God that you could envy.
And its all hidden right there in plain sight.
I remember when I was a kid listening to one of my favorite preachers, Jim McGuiggan, preaching about the woman who interrupts the meal Jesus is invited to at Simon The Pharisee’s house. I recall how Simon thinks to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman this is…” – a WHORE. Yeah, Simon doesn’t really believe Jesus is a prophet, the messiah, or in any meaningfully way God because God wouldn’t have anything to do with a whore! But Jesus, of course, patiently allows her to weep all over his feet and dry them with her whore-filthy hair. Jesus endures the shame she pours out her eyes all over him.
Jesus speaks to Simon. He addresses the private thoughts Simon is having by saying, “Simon. Do you see this woman?”
McGuiggan tells us that Simon didn’t see a woman; he saw a whore. He saw a bum, an addict, a beggar, someone beneath his contempt. Someone he thinks should be beneath God’s contempt.
Not Jesus. Jesus saw a woman. A beautiful woman… her beauty hidden in plain sight.
Yeah… you could pray with her. And your well-meaning, spiritual sounding, heart felt prayers (I don’t mean to knock’m either), as genuine as they are, sound a bit professional compared to hers. But hers pour out her eyes, come snotting out her nose, slobbing from her kisses, and just streaming down his feet, and she mops them up with her hair. And there is something deep and true in her expression of love and dependence that you and I can envy. A beauty worthy of the most famous art galleries. A beauty you will find in your Bible!
She has laid it all on the line, and he lays it all on the line with her there.
And I am telling you, you can share that prayer with such women (and men) on back lots, on street corners, behind downtown liquor stores, out back of Walmart right now.
I know; I have.
Now maybe you prefer just to spiritualize your viewing of this beauty on Sunday, but its right there waiting for you tonight. Jesus is right there waiting for you tonight. Won’t you take his hand?
You can see this beauty too, if you want. It’s right there in plain sight! But it will cost ya.
How much would it be worth to you?
When you can answer that question, you have given your real heartfelt worthship to Jesus.