A Work in Progress

 

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Synopsis of  A Work in Progress

We’re about to slice a piece of the Bread of Life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from:  Luke chapter 9. The citizens of Jerico were offended when Jesus went ot the home of Zacchaeus the tax collector.  Luke 9:7 Yet, when Zacchaeus had a deep change of heart Jesus told him, “Today salvation has come to this house… for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” 

Some of you may remember Allen Funt’s Candid Camera television program that delighted us using a hidden camera to catch the often hilarious reactions of ordinary people to unexpected situations. Their approach, according to his son Peter was: “We believe people are wonderful, and we’re out to confirm it.” Peter feels the perspective of some other similar shows is that “…people are stupid, and we’re going to find ways to underscore that.”  His comments point out that our view of people determines how we treat them.

According to the slice of bread we just read Jesus doesn’t see losers, only lost people He loves. When we look at others, who do we see?

Harrison wrote a poem: “Oh, give me, Lord, Your love for souls, For lost and wandering sheep, that I may see the multitudes and weep as You did weep.”

Perhaps this is a good time to examine a Spiritual Philosophy:

  • 1.     It s best to look at others from the inside out.
  • 2.     God makes everyone’s heart the same color
  • 3.     We cannot fill God’s shoes but we can follow His footsteps.
  • 4.      We can pray for equality, strive for harmony, apply technology,         but….
  • We are nothing with God’s love in us.                                                                                       As today’s title, A Work in Progress, reminds us that  God is not through working on any of us. This is one reason we cannot judge one another.

 

Perhaps the Lord has been working overtime in your life, although things seem to be falling apart and going crazy. You have been tempted to say, or maybe have said to Him, today, “Would You please stop working on me? I can’t take it anymore!”                               But I sense the Lord saying to you, “But wait till you see when I am finished. Wait till you see when I am finished. Things are not falling apart, they are falling together! You are a work in progress.”

 

I believe it is time for a little story to exemplify this idea:  Its called, “Shoes In Church “

 

I showered, shaved, adjusted my tie. I got there and sat in a pew just in  time.           Bowing my head in prayer……… As I closed my eyes…..                                                          I saw the shoe of the man next to me….. Touching my own. I sighed.

With plenty of room on either side…… I thought, ‘Why must our soles touch?’                 It bothered me, his shoe touching mine… But it didn’t bother him much.

A prayer began: ‘Our Father’………… I thought, ‘This man with the shoes,  has no pride. They’re dusty, worn, and scratched. Even worse, there are holes on the side!’

‘Thank You for blessings,’ the prayer went on. The shoe man said…….. A quiet ‘Amen.’  I tried to focus on the prayer……. But my thoughts were on his shoes again.

Aren’t we supposed to look our best. When walking through that  door?                  ‘Well, this certainly isn’t it,’ I thought, Glancing toward the floor..

Then the prayer was ended……….. And the songs of praise began.                                  The shoe man was certainly loud….. Sounding proud as he sang.

His voice lifted the rafters…….. His hands were raised high.                                            The Lord could surely hear. The shoe man’s voice from the sky.

It was time for the offering…… And what I threw in was steep.                                              I watched as the shoe man reached…. Into his pockets so deep.

I saw what was pulled out………… What the shoe man put in.                                                Then I heard a soft ‘clink’ . As when silver hits tin.

The sermon really bored me………… To tears, and that’s no lie.                                              It was the same for the shoe man…. For tears fell from his eyes.

At the end of the service…… As is the custom here.                                                                  We must greet new visitors, And show them all good cheer.

But I felt moved somehow………….. And wanted to meet the shoe man.                               So after the closing prayer…….. I reached over and shook his hand.

He was old and his skin was dark…. And his hair was truly a mess.                                      But I thanked him for coming……… For being our guest.

He said, ‘My names’ Charlie………… I’m glad to meet you, my friend.’                                  There were tears in his eyes…….. But he had a large, wide grin.

‘Let me explain,’ he said………. Wiping tears from his eyes.                                                     ‘I’ve been coming here for months…. And you’re the first to say ‘Hi.”

‘I know that my appearance…………’Is not like all the rest.                                                      ‘But I really do try……………..’To always look my best.’

‘I always clean and polish my shoes..’Before my very long walk.                                            ‘But by the time I get here……….’They’re dirty and dusty, like chalk.’

My heart filled with pain………. And I swallowed to hide my tears.                                       As he continued to apologize……….. For daring to sit so near

He said, ‘When I get here…………..’I know I must look a sight.                                               ‘But I thought if I could touch you..’Then maybe our souls might unite.’

I was silent for a moment……….. Knowing whatever was said                                                Would pale in comparison… I spoke from my heart, not my head.

‘Oh, you’ve touched me,’ I said……’And taught me, in part;                                                   ‘That the best of any man……………’Is what is found in his heart.’

The rest, I thought,……This shoe man will never know.                                                           just how thankful I really am… that his dirty old shoe touched my soul

That story causes me to think about the One in Twelve.  It is believed that there were about 5,000 believers during the time of Christ. Among those believers, it was thought there were three types.

  • The largest number of believers were those who came to Jesus for salvation.              They served Him little beyond coming to Him to receive salvation.
  •  A much smaller number, say 500, actually followed Him and served Him.
  • Then, there were the disciples. These were those who identified with Jesus.               They lived the life that Jesus lived. Each of these ultimately died in difficult circumstances. They experienced the hardships, the miracles, and the fellowship with God in human form.

If you had to say which group best represented your life, which one would you fall into – the 5,000 who simply believed, the 500 who followed and sought to implement what they were learning from the Savior, or the 12 who identified completely with the life and mission of the Savior?

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