The following essay was posted on The Purpose Driven Life website on March 30, 2006. Written byJohn Fischer, I found it most insightful, especially in view of recent conversations sparked by our plans to develop high-quality, affordable housing in downtown Dallas.
See if you agree. _________________________________________________
“In plain sight, yet invisible at the same time.” This statement struck me from a newsletter I received on behalf of an inner city worker. It was how one person described a time when she was at a low point of homelessness in her life. “Out of sight, out of mind” was one thing, she said, but to be “in plain sight, yet invisible at the same time” was the worst.
This has to strike a cord in all of us. Our societies are so fragmented now that there can exist a great divide separating us from the people we encounter every day. Here in southern California, just to drive from one place to another you can pass through districts of enormous racial, social, and economic disparity. I can’t imagine it is much different in any other city. In such an environment, I can feel the temptation to make whole people groups invisible to me so I don’t have to deal with what scares me or what I don’t understand about them. But if my purpose is to serve, I don’t get to write anyone off. Part of serving is seeing. And part of seeing is becoming sensitive to the invisible people who are in plain sight.
It appears that Jesus was always drawing a crowd made up primarily of invisible folks. It was a lame, blind, leprous, and insane group of left-behinds that seemed to gather around him wherever he went – people who if society had some place to put them so they would be out of the way it would. But since they can’t be put away anywhere, they become invisible. But not to Jesus.
Making people invisible is also a way we can avoid being called into service. “If I make eye contact with that guy, he might ask something of me.” Well of course he will! (I know what I’m talking about here, because I’m always trying to get off the hook.) And if I don’t have money to give him, I have something. Perhaps it starts with seeing him, and then I might discover what to do. Peter once healed a lame man begging by the road, because he didn’t have any money to give him. Imagine that! Well I don’t have any money, but I can heal you and completely turn your life around from here on out!
No one is invisible to Jesus. And if you and I have Jesus, we have something to give. For starters, we have the gift of seeing someone, and for someone who has been invisible in plain sight for a long time, that is an incredible gift in and of itself.
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Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
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